My speculation is that this partnership is first and foremost an attempt to provide Uber with a patina of respectability for this attempt and access to military technical expertise. Uber just crashed and burned on self driving, something it desperately needs to quench its towering money fires. Uber's investors know that. Therefore, Uber needs to constantly appear to be "innovating" in flashy ways to keep its investors at bay with seductive promises of even greater riches.
This, even if the entire idea of flying cars driven by normal humans is insane or worse, piloted by a company known for breaking rules (now in Aviation of all things!) and have the dubious honor of being the first to kill a woman with self-driving AI.
It helps to have connections to get these contracts yo. And of course, yet another major American company cooperating with defense. Military-industrial complex indeed. Every peaceful venture must be tied to the killing machine. All the cool kids are, like Google and its TF support for drone assassinations.
EDIT: added technical expertise to 2nd paragraph
The government has staggeringly interesting problems that need solving and sole access to some very interesting data, which they will happily share as long as you bring your own pick-axe and shovel.
Go to federallabs.org and start shopping. It's not Amazon, you'll have to actually go to some of these places and meet the custodians of the problems and data, but it's worth it.
I've said Google is where the future falls from the sky like rain. These labs are like the Mississippi River basin, all the water goes here.
The key is prospecting. You want to look around, get a good idea of how big a particular reserve is, and go for something big. You may have to start small, but keep your eye on the prize and work up a glide slope. You can get there. The law was created so you can get there.
* Veterans Affairs
* DoD: too many labs to name, coordinated by each service, ONR, AFRL, and ARL
Really, get a look at the Death and Taxes Poster if you want to shop by category. But the labs are the shelves lined with product you need to shop through.
they're the intellectual equivalent of buying mining rights for $5/acre ... The key is prospecting. You want to look around, get a good idea of how big a particular reserve is, and go for something big.
Could you elaborate on this a little or give an example?
As far as I understand CRADA is "cooperative R&D", so each side contributes to the R&D of some subject. Wikipedia says
"Private corporations participating in a CRADA are allowed to file for patent, and they retain patent rights on inventions developed by the CRADA. The government gets a license to the patents"
So if the govt already gets a license to the patents, and the tech has been developed with defense purposes in mind, how am I going to profit as a private company?
Let's break that down a bit...
So the government has patent rights. They'd have to exercise them, which requires product development. Are you aware of the government selling many widgets to citizens? They sell road maintenance, insurance, and security services. But they don't really sell citizens "things".
Companies are savvy. If the government approached you and said "we have this patented tech, we want you to use it in this widget", now that you know about CRADAs, wouldn't you be a bit worried about a lawsuit from the other people who have rights on that patent?
Further, without commercialization, the government has rights on that one thing. They don't have rights on version 2, or even version 1.1.
You mention defense. Why? Are you in the defense business? Dept of Transportation might be better for self-driving cars. DoE or NIST might be better high tech partners. USDA or FDA if your in the food space. Etc.
To me CRADAs just sound like a vehicle to share R&D costs, which, in most companies, aren't dominating the budget. So they can be a nice help but no game-changer.
However you mentioned "mining rights" and "going for something big", so it sounded like there's another way to look at this, which I was interested to hear about.
There are tons of how-tos on line. Keywords are "CRADA", "technology transfer" (T2) and pick a noun or verb of your choice. Every federal department and agency has some sort of "T2" program with people who will even help write the CRADA for you. Commerce, Interior, HHS, all of them.
The key items are to write an effective statement of work and a budget. And understand these things are designed to accomodate big, enormous projects. Act of Congress scale projects. So, if you're going to think, you might as well think big. The paperwork is the same, big or small.
I imagine this is just a test. They are blowing the cash with 99% certainty nothing will come out of it. BUT, if headway is made, it could quickly become hundreds of millions.
Just wanted to point out that a large chunk of technological innovation in the past century has roots in the military. Almost all communications protocols had origins in defense.
But, when I read:
"The joint work statement focuses on research to create the first usable stacked co-rotating rotors or propellers; this is a concept for having two rotor systems placed on top of each other and rotating in the same direction."
I scratch my head: where is Uber's domain expertise in this?
Does Uber? They sure talk about things a lot and yet, there is very little - if any - proof of them doing actual work on "flying cars".
I'm inclined to agree with other comments that this is mostly a PR stunt for Uber.
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWvQuk0_xjs
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uELtDHITGo
You can see that they do have people actually working on various important aspects of urban aviation.
I just hope this isn't DARPA subsidising Uber's questionable at best business model.
On a separate note, could someone enlighten how stacked co-rotoring (moving towards the same direction) may make the aircraft silent and not noisier?
~12 Google employees resigned. Out of ~4,000 signers to the petition. Out of ~74,000 total employees. A drop in the bucket. Clearly the vast majority of google employees don't care, rationalize away, or excuse the fact that they work for the military industrial complex.
The military industrial complex is, essentially, a mandatory relationship, though with significant problems leading to inefficiency and poor management decisions.
The way to fix this is through reform. It could be argued that the election of a private citizen with no government experience however significant experience in the private sector is evidence of actual voting in for change in the military leadership. Whether this translates to actual long term efficiency is yet to be seen.
Either way, voting for reformist candidates (for either way you support) in senate, house and local elections goes a long way.
What I was trying to highlight is that the rapport between the involvement in military research and the amount of revolt stemming from it is quite small, ergo the reaction is not quite a drop in the bucket but quite strong, looking at what prompted it.
In comparison, the largest petition in the US was 4.6 million signatures, a mere 1.8% of the working age population.
So more than 1 in 100 of Google's employees resigned because of the contract? That doesn't seem right, do you have a source for that. That would be huge news. Was it 1% of one particular department only?
> 5.6% of staff signed a petition and 1.6% resigned.
1.6% would be almost 12,000, not 12. I'm not familiar with this case but a quick search corroborated that it was a dozen employees that walked out.
Like that hexapod in the above link, if you lose one prop/motor/controller, you can increase power to other unit in the stack and decrease power to all the others, maintaining your stability while you descend and look for an emergency landing spot.
That's about 8 person-years in salary. Given Uber's scale that doesn't make any sense.
"Technology" for the company has been coming up with a mobile app to connect drivers and potential customers - something hardly groundbreaking. Probably the most groundbreaking technological thing coming from these guys has been the multiple evasion software etc which at the end of the day are not only just sketchy to begin with but also not really anything worth their company valuation, even on the defense contracting etc where such applications could become worth something if you have slick enough lobbying/sales people.
And while their efforts to "disrupt" the taxi economy have been "great" in all honesty they've only created room for their competition to benefit on this - Uber has simply managed to take a business (taxis) and run it to chaos while what would've been the logical step was to run a similar application by the taxi companies for ride hailing.
The US defense collaboration we can only speculate on but presumably this is either government wanting to get their hands on the Uber spying software or taking their bet that if these dimwits ever come up with anything technological they can always call for it - why spend billions upon billions on R&D when you can get a bunch of small contracts for which you can negotiate exclusive rights for upcoming R&D by the companies.
My question simply is - why do you care of anything Uber anymore? After everything this company has proven to be from the law enforcement evasion to sexual harassment scandals and borderline impossible "innovations" (like seriously, who seriously thought these guys can figure out the self-driving cars etc when the 2 of the biggest technology corporations with virtually unlimited experience, know-how, funding and partnerships haven't done so yet?).
At best this would be proper honest R&D but in my honest opinion there's no way Uber is that far with the tech and no way US Army is doing R&D for civil purposes, you take into account the miniscule contract value etc and it's rather clear that this is either publicity stunt by Uber to save their sinking ship or direct tech takeover from government. In either case there's hardly anything news worthy and even less anything worth of spending time - let is sink and someone will build a better, functioning ship to take people across the busy streets of New York in some vehicle whether it's flying or on the ground.
> And while their efforts to "disrupt" the taxi economy have been "great" in all honesty they've only created room for their competition to benefit on this - Uber has simply managed to take a business (taxis) and run it to chaos while what would've been the logical step was to run a similar application by the taxi companies for ride hailing.
These two statements are contradictory.
While I'm not a fan of many things Uber does, this was something that was groundbreaking at the time, less than 10 years ago. If you lived in a big city before Uber/Lyft/etc you have fond memories of getting ripped off and taken advantage of, taking bad routes, dangerously manuvering through traffic, and either having to walk to a main thoroughfare or wait 30 minutes for the taxi that was supposed to be dispatched in 10 when you called for one. And good luck having anything come out of a complaint to the city over violations of passenger rights laws.
Now, regardless of what the complaints are against Uber, you can get a way more affordable ride, at a fixed price, on a mapped route, whose livelihood actually depends on how good they are (ratings), and know when/where your ride is almost as soon as you order it.
Even now where you'd expect taxi companies to take a stance to provide better services, they're devoting more resources to lobbying local government to control "ride share" companies. Mean while, all they'd have to do is provide a rating system, fixed prices over mapped routes, and an app to order a taxi and I'd be happy. Just enforcing that they use some direction service that can route around traffic would probably be enough for me. Instead, it seems they prey on locations full of non city tourist (like airports, train station, and attractions) that don't know any better.
Uber has undoubtedly done bad things, but to say they aren't a technology company and that what they did (and still are doing) isn't groundbreaking is wrong.
Good comparisons imo in regards to the disruption if that bothers here would be something like PayPal or even AirBnB which disrupted the industries they work within, and did it in a way that created positive progress and actually both companies are still on route to making that disruption of old wasteful industries better - Uber didn't do this and has long given up on anything except trying to burn as much money as possible (just a personal opinion).
Yes Uber (and Lyft etc) did a disruption in what you mentioned and I fully agree with your points on the issues with taxi traffic previously (and to some extent still, even with these lovely ride sharing companies). However one has to simply wonder if all that would've been possible with just providing product for taxi companies (and individuals) offering the benefits of this disruption - mapped rides with feedback system and pre-determined rates. Also what has to be taken into account here is that some of these features already existed within the industry, while maybe not in US they still existed.
The ride thing, I agree here albeit Uber has been, and still is the most expensive option (in a lot of countries it's even more expensive than those taxis taking the bad routes etc). Mapped routes (aka GPS) isn't Uber invention btw, it's called navigation and has been there since 1995. The rating system works (technically) and gives an incentive for the drivers which I think think all can agree is a good thing. Then again what if someone just came up with app that provides feedback system and price calculations based on the length of the trip and variables in traffic and offered that to the taxi companies and individuals (and why not for everyone with a smart phone), would that cost 2,8 billion as loss annually. Dunno.
The taxi companies are taking a bad fight here admittedly and in no way I think either party's lobbying efforts are really making any progress here with traditional business trying to fight for the "fossils & fuels" so to say and the new players trying to not just enhance but break the existing legal regulations etc. Either party really isn't looking to create anything new nor improve, but more so at the end just fighting for the money, and well guess it's business but I agree here that the traditional taxis really aren't helping their case either.
To say Uber isn't a technology company is a thin red line imo, it's not a technology company as Google nor Stripe, they aren't really doing technological innovations nor products but more so sociological and business related disruptions. Their app might've been the first there and they might've jumped on every single branch of technology from aerospace to AI and food delivery. What I mean with this is that their innovations within the technology space have been rather miniscule (in comparison to other companies that actually work with technology, or Dominos for that matter of working with food delivery and through that in hospitality) when taken into comparison with the massive impact they seem to have in the industry. Or would you consider saying that naming a product which essentially is a standard equipment in cars, albeit it's fancy name of UberKIDS, a child safety seat (and not a fancy high-tech one, just having that in a car) is a technological breakthrough or, well anything technological? I don't know, just tossing my 5 cents in the pool.
Or you could ask. I work for the lab's parent command. The easy answer is that, if you look at the Army's top modernization priorities, future vertical lift (better helicopters) is right near the tippy top. And if you search up "ARL open campus," you'll see what the lab has been up to with respect to partnering. And that's just the lab. We have six research, development & engineering centers who are also partnering with people all the time.
Or does it have anything to do with US governments license on the partnering programs granting them
"nonexclusive, royalty free and worldwide license for government use" for any IP and resource commitment? Which seems to be one of the top selling points of the program, I guess it could say "exclusive" also which wouldn't probably be on the front page of license information.
Also, my command executes about 75% of the Army's R&D budget and does a fair amount of engineering for Army and other federal organizations. All that totals up to about $6 - 6.5 billion a year. That's a lot of money, but not enough to keep up with everybody everywhere in every field of interest to the Army. So we partner.
As far as exclusive vs non-exclusive, there has long been a segment of the military industrial complex that takes Army research and builds things to sell to the Army (and we have programs to help them do that), or to turn the research into civilian products. It goes project by project, so I don't make blanket statements. That said, the open campus idea that was pitched to by the lab to our commander is pretty much exactly what it says in their press releases. My general understanding is that people like military contracts, but if you restrict them to a military contract then the people with some of the best ideas lose interest. Again, that's just my understanding because I'm sometimes in the room for various discussions. If this were an official query I'd have to check with several people to give an official, informed reply.
For the mines, well they were part of warfare for some 600-800 years before Ottawa Treaty banning them in 1999, conveniently a treaty that wasn't signed by US. IEDs would've came no matter what and saying that's anything to do with the subject or army research is like saying that Molotov cocktails were supposed to be used to fire up the BBQ.
Valley isn't really known to be supporting war nor armies and there's been some backlashes for the companies involved with military equipment and/or technology development.
Uber has already killed a civilian and that was with their so-called technology development on US soil so I guess that goes with their general agenda. And albeit this is a grim way to put it, the fact is that for a company which is known to be shady at best a collaboration with one of the most prominent modern day civilian bombing military forces, well, I could see that go wrong. Of course now days US army keeps better track of their drones and where those missiles hit with better technology, so there's hopefully better direction on these technological advances. And thankfully if Uber's civilian casualties rise the same rate that the number of civilian casualties by drone strikes it'll take at least a decade before they reach significant numbers. Let's hope it's not gonna be the case and they're just doing publicity stunt to save the ship to which I say - let it sink.
For a country which has never been invaded nor attacked directly on land by another nation (besides conflicts prior to 1900s) while at the same time currently being active on multiple war zones around the world (some of the conflicts which it's started itself), well, the word defense gets a new meaning I guess.
While I don't care much for the company, Uber's efforts in AI research has impressed me. Have a look: http://uber.ai/
I for one don't want one if these things crashing on my house.
I guess the world isn’t perfect but we at least have regulation for things we put in the air that we won’t for self driving cars or ride sharing etc.
- Uber has ambitions to build a Volocopter  alternative
- Uber wants to become an US Army contractor (probably to utilize their AI technology for drones or self driving supply trucks/tanks)
What am I missing?
What they're doing here is stacking rotors on top of each other, not for lift, but apparently because it's quieter and allows for 'better performance' .. whatever that means.
I’ll continue using Lyft. Uber is going to either get lucky with something and also be the Uber Of That or they’re going to burn hard by forgetting what it is they are supposed to be doing.
Now it's not just casual misogyny and user surveillance. Your work may actually kill people when used as intended.
Are you intentionally being completely oblivious to the fact that many people believe this consequence to be a good thing for them and humanity as a whole? I don't want to get into the debate about whether this belief is true or not; I'm just curious as to why HN commenters so often pretend that people with different political beliefs don't exist at all, or are only pretending to have these beliefs out of some other, hidden, true reasons.
Even if you don't agree with some political stance, it's just strange to convince yourself that nobody sincerely believes it.
The parent didn't say "Don't you know this will kill people!?" they said "This will kill people".