The primary mission of the Black Rock City Department of Mutant Vehicles (DMV) is to license Mutant Vehicles for movement at Burning Man.  Mutant Vehicles contribute to the surreal thread that binds Black Rock City together.  They are “art on wheels”: radically, stunningly, (usually) permanently, and safely modified motorized vehicles.


DMV seems to have reached a stride where, though there are still a few wrinkles to iron out, things are working well overall.  The only major change in 2006 was that vehicle registration deadline was moved up by two weeks.  With the deadline previously set in mid-July, it proved to be too much work to get all applications processed and get ready for playa operations within just over a month.  By moving the deadline up two weeks, it allowed DMV to give notice to the last of the registrants earlier than just days before the playa, as was happening before, leaving registrants more time to plan.

The one notable bump in the road was the database; otherwise, for the most part things ran well and DMV had few problems.  But as technology sometimes goes, one tiny thing went wrong in the system which threw many other things off and it took weeks to get it all straightened out.  Fortunately, in true burner style, most everyone who fell victim to this folly took it in stride and was patient and understanding of the situation, even when it proved to be a headache for all involved.  This year we will continue to make adjustments to the database and to our registration review process so that there are fewer issues and a swifter turnaround.

Unga Bunga, one of the most ubiquitous art cars on the playa in 2006.

On-playa DMV saw improvements as well.  Though for the most part our process remained the same, we added a position to our operations that created an extra layer to the hierarchy, a shift lead position that was a buffer between DMV Hotties processing and the one solo lead for the day that we have had.  This additional position allowed everyone else to work more effectively.  Ultimately this resulted in a better experience not just for those working at DMV, but also participants coming in to register.  In addition to this added position, we grew our ranks by about 15%, which again made the work level more manageable and made those we were serving happier.  We hope to continue to expand our ranks this coming year.

Our only real issue on playa was that the process for taking pictures of the vehicles and entering the pictures into the database proved slow, cumbersome, and unreliable due to the process and technology we were using.  We will be looking at ways to improve this process in the coming year.

Submitted by odwally