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U.S. Army, Uber sign research agreement (army.mil)
157 points by hapnin 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 120 comments

Interesting, military only gave ~$1M for such an ambitious project while Uber is burning billions a year and could easily afford this.

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

This is a cooperative research and development agreement ("CRADA"), which is generally a technology sharing vehicle. Money flows from the non-federal party to the federal party on these agreements. Looks like ARL is matching the funds, so Uber is putting $500k on the CRADA and ARL will reciprocate with $500k in sole-source funding on an actual contracting vehicle. I'd be surprised if the $500k paid for anything more than a proof of concept demonstration on both sides.

I have done multiple CRADAs and frankly believe they are the most underutilized tool in the tech industry, they're the intellectual equivalent of buying mining rights for $5/acre.

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.

Key programs

* Veterans Affairs

* DoD: too many labs to name, coordinated by each service, ONR, AFRL, and ARL


* DoE

* DoI


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.


This sounds super interesting but my knowledge in this area is too limited to fully get what you're saying.

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?

> 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.

Ok, I get the patent part. But what I was mostly interested in is how you see CRADAs help companies make money.

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.

That's super interesting. Would you be willing to share some of your background on this? I'm quite curious about this route.

It'll take 6 months to a year to get a CRADA written and signed. They're good for 5 years and can be amended. Budgets are generally side by side, transfer of funds doesn't work well. If you need people on site, working through a DoD staffing agency (e.g. Booz-Allen, one of the military medicine foundations, etc) is worth the overhead because they have the staffing experience.

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.

Great advice. Thank you.

"Interesting, military only gave ~$1M for such an ambitious project"

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.

According to Gizmodo report military is using Google's Tensor Flow units for footage processing, it would be fair to assume that it's simply a trial contract to see if they can process some of that footage. That could potentially mean government contracts for private companies going to the lowest bidder, some time in the near future.

tensorflow is a machine learning API. you're thinking of TPUs

> And of course, yet another major American company cooperating with defense.

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.

Well maybe its a cheap way of getting access to the research larger drones for resupply in the field

I guess they’re starting their IPO roadshow by trying to stay in the news as much as possible.

With as flimsy as this is, is it an ICO* roadshow?

That, and they just made it militarily important that they continue to exist.

Not really - a $1 million CRADA doesn't make a company's existence important or guaranteed in the eyes of the military. If the technology is deployed, different story.

I can see Uber doing R&D in autonomous cars, I see that an extension - and the next logical steps - for transportation as we know it.

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?

It's a $500,000 dollar research grant, I assume the military gives out a lot of these and almost none make press releases. Uber has talked about flying cars before, so that's the experience answer.

I also talked about flying cars before, how is that "experience"?

Do you have people on staff working on building flying cars? If so you too can probably match the government for $500,000 and research the topic.

> Do you have people on staff working on building flying cars?

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.

UberElevate Summit Videos:

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.

If you have money, you have domain expertise. They hired Mark Moore from NASA and Celina Mikolajczak from Tesla. Each of these people can hire an entire team of experts from NASA and Tesla.

Isn't Uber's most recent soft pivot in their pitch to their investors "cars on the road are overrated, the future's all about flying taxis"?

I just hope this isn't DARPA subsidising Uber's questionable at best business model.

I haven't heard that one (from them), got a link?

Isn't it ironic whilst Google's engineers are mass protesting against military contracts, Uber already signed a whole bunch without any moral dilemma whatsover. Tells a lot about the company ethics there.

On a separate note, could someone enlighten how stacked co-rotoring (moving towards the same direction) may make the aircraft silent and not noisier?

> "Google's engineers are mass protesting"

~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.

You also work for the Military Industrial Complex if you live in the U.S and contribute taxes.

More like coerced, there is no option.

Vote for someone else? If people actually care, and it seems a great number do, it is possible to actually do something.

Defense of the United States is required by the US Constitution. Defense requires military spending. Military spending is money given to the military itself as well as arms produced by non military companies and contractors.

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.

The MIC and Intelligence apparatus are here to stay. They are overwhelmingly bipartisan. It would be "Anti-American" to not avow complete support.

Not in a two party system. Voting for anyone that deviates from the status quo is throwing away your vote.

It's throwing away your vote until it isn't. As recent as 1992 a third candidate got above 18%, and led in the polls just a few months before the election.

Either way, voting for reformist candidates (for either way you support) in senate, house and local elections goes a long way.

The US's last third party president was George Washington.

Some employees raising concerns is something, compared to noone raising concerns I'd say. It shows difference in openess and culture between the two organizations.

Hard to say what that culture is exactly, though. It could simply be a culture where the employees feel safe enough to express concern with the company. Ie, both employee groups have the same numbers of people who care about ethics, but one group feels more able to express those concerns.

I think your comment is a little bit unfair seeing as only a very very small subset of those ~74.000 employees work for the "military industrial complex" and even that on a subset of the problem that is not directly aimed at killing people.

People like to say that because of the military industry complex having a small role in the funding of research that Sergey Brin was part of while he was at Stanford. Back in reality, the government has had its hands all over funding programs like that since the 1940s and it amounts to nothing more than routine government sponsorship of science & research, which all nations do.

I don't understand how you're trying to spin this. If you only want to look at the people working directly on military projects (a restriction that I'm not sure makes sense in the first place), the number of people who signed the petition and resigned from Google will also go down. How exactly does this back Bobbleoxs' comment?

I think saying I want to "spin" something implies I have some sort of ulterior motive for doing so and only care about projecting am image, not about the truth. I can assure you, that is not so, I simply think Google, overall, has managed to be a good influence on the world. I might be wrong, but my opinion comes from honest belief. Assuming otherwise poisons the conversation.

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.

How big is that team doing that contract though? Did half of the team resign? That'd be the numbers I'd be more interested in knowing about, or are these random employees?

I mean, if they were people with strong ethics who don't want to do harm, they probably wouldn't be working for Google in the first place.

That's quite a leap to equate "okay with killing people" to "working at Google".

5.6% of staff signed a petition and 1.6% resigned.

In comparison, the largest petition in the US was 4.6 million signatures, a mere 1.8% of the working age population.

> 1.6% resigned.

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?

0.016%, not 1.6%

>> ~12 Google employees resigned. Out of ~4,000 signers to the petition. Out of ~74,000 total employees.

> 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.

1.6% of 74000 is approx 1200, not 12000.

Actually it's 120

74000 * 1,6 / 100 = 1184

Google's AI research team is 3490 people according to (https://ai.google/research/people) While I couldn't find any info on who left. Assuming it was high paid AI researchers/engineers, it puts number of employees resigned in a perspective.

I find it ironic that western countries and their citizens are all kumbaya about the ethics of being a bully nation (militarily and socially) while our empires were built at the expense of those we exploited (colonialism for europeans, post WWII resource-grabs for US.) Everyone in the US forgets that the pollution and poor labor practices in China is the foundation that our buying power and consumption is based off of.

Most US citizens are woefully ignorant of this perspective. Their ignorance precludes the irony from ever showing itself.

mass protests? did you see Google engineers blocking the company gates or something?

I have no clue about the stacked corotating rotors. How do they compensate for the yaw caused by the net torque? Stacked counter rotating rotor systems do exist. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coaxial_rotors

I think it's about loosing a rotor, not net torque. You need to keep the roll and pitch stable in an outage.

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.

Right, but if both of your rotors are spinning the same direction, you have net torque under normal operation.

Only from the one pod. In all these multirotor deals, there will be other pods to make a net zero torque: not necessarily all the same pod to cancel itself out.

I'd think people with a 'moral dilemma' wouldn't be working for Uber in the first place.

Has Google not signed a whole bunch of military contracts?

Ah yes, how amoral it is to work with, arguably, the greatest force for good the world has ever known, the US military..

More like Google was ready to deal with the PR and spun the story of just a few engineers resigning..

So the army saw how Uber’s driverless cars handle pedestrians crossing a road and said “shut up and take my money”?

They probably didn't even think or care about it. I bet someone on the board reached for some connections and it just happened to be the military. A lot of that stuff happens behind the scenes even though officially the is a bid and proposal process.

>Uber and the Army's research lab expect to spend a combined total of $1 million in funding for this research; this funding will be divided equally between each party.

That's about 8 person-years in salary. Given Uber's scale that doesn't make any sense.

Probably just a way to grease the wheels and start the sharing of knowledge between parties. If Uber succeeds in becoming a serious aeronotics lab then the government will definetly want to collaborate, might make sense to get some ties established now?

Could it be a front for some other kind of deal? It sounds a bit paranoid but if it's classified they wouldn't tell us anyway.

I work one level up from the lab, but they probably wouldn't tell me either because I don't have a need to know. That said, if there are classified angles to something I at least usually know what to avoid bringing up. Nothing like that with this partnership. Our command has more than 500 formal partnerships, and this deals with one of the Army's top modernization priorities (future vertical lift).

Most probably from government side this is purely a bold "In case these guys manage to do it we don't want the tech to fall to hands of <insert random country> so let's get contract on their R&D now and keep eye on it. If they succeed we'll push for exclusivity and if they fail, well it's a million, who cares. We're already some 20 trillion in debt so pish posh."

It was a 500k match not 1 million.

lot less than that actually that's a small 3-4 person team

Or would it be time to give up on Uber and finally admit that they're neither a technology company nor anything else "groundbreaking" that Valley thinks they are.

"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.

> "Technology" for the company has been coming up with a mobile app to connect drivers and potential customers - something hardly groundbreaking.

> 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.

Not to get nitpicky here but the statements are not in contradiction - one is stating what was the "technological breakthrough" of Uber and another is stating that their disruption of the industry they wanted to affect hasn't really gone their (or anyone else's) way. I'm not really sure if that what they created in the industry (taxis) and what their basically core and original product is (app which connects drivers and customers) are in contradiction here.

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.

> The US defense collaboration we can only speculate on

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.

Cool, so what is the 1 million contract for? Just co-developing VTOLs so both parties benefit? Sharing information and knowledge?

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.


Yes, it's just about working with people who are doing things of interest to the Army. Army leaders have been saying for a while that, without partnerships, there are areas in which the Army can't keep up with the pace of technological change, the spread of new technologies, and what people who haven't historically had access to military R&D can do with those technologies. For example, mines used to be limited to a relatively few armies. Then somebody figured out how to set off stacks of stolen explosives with a cell phone and we had to deal with IEDs.

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.

Don't wanna comment on the general US army and partnering businesses - this happens in all countries and all levels and that's that. Think we can fairly assess that warfare is huge economic influence and by this point in human history I don't really think we have to discuss it's advantages and/or disadvantages anymore.

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.

'"Technology" for the company has been coming up with a mobile app to connect drivers and potential customers - something hardly groundbreaking.'

While I don't care much for the company, Uber's efforts in AI research has impressed me. Have a look: http://uber.ai/

> "Technology" for the company has been coming up with a mobile app to connect drivers and potential customers - something hardly groundbreaking


Making a more precise geolocation feature does not make them anything more than "a mobile app to connect drivers and potential customers". Perhaps a well made one (with fancy geolocation like in that article), but not more.

Uber misses no opportunity not to like them.

And when the agreement completes they'll each gain +200 science.

It’s good that the US isn’t at war in Iraq any more. Uber’s surge pricing would bankrupt them.

Guessing this refers to http://www.freepatentsonline.com/8640985.html : multiple co-axial rotors spinning in the same direction sounds a bit odd but evidently does something clever with wakes to increase lift / reduce noise.

Well, jet engines are internally co-axial rotors spinning in the same direction (except for some with contra rotating HP and LP).

That comparison only really holds if you ignore the stators, which the rotors are reacting against.

Good reason for legislators to kick Uber out of their country.

I think this is definitely true. There are many countries in the world that are looking for an excuse to turn public opinion against Uber, and having the US Army as a partner is definitely a good way to do that.

And then they can also scrap all of the planes, space programs, tor networks, telephones and just about every other modern technology that the US Military has in someway funded

The way this tends to work is not rational, it's reactionary and often punitive. It doesn't matter if product X also was partially funded by US Army, if regulators don't like Uber, this is yet another thing to create that argument with.

Not to mention the internet and gps, both which have roots in the DOD.

Will Uber aquire the necessary licenses from the FAA to fly these things or will they also ignore those because they want to 'disrupt' the industry? Theses things better be safe before they get used.

I for one don't want one if these things crashing on my house.

They sort of have to right? If they don’t its going to be obvious and the government should come down on them.

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.

You can see a picture of the "stacked co-rotating rotors" on their partners website: http://www.launchpnt.com/

Two guesses:

- Uber has ambitions to build a Volocopter [1] alternative

- Uber wants to become an US Army contractor (probably to utilize their AI technology for drones or self driving supply trucks/tanks)

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tODIvUmH6cs

>To date, stacked co-rotating rotors have not been deployed in existing flying craft.


What am I missing?

Existing systems are contra-rotating, this research is co-rotating.

If both rotors spin the same direction, what keeps the aircraft body from rotating the other direction? Is there a tail rotor?

Good questions, even better question would be how did we figure out quantum theory etc but couldn't figure that twice the vertical lift from 2 rotors is more than lift single rotor? How's this something credited to Uber? Dunno.

Tandem rotors have been around for almost a century.

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 find it interesting that Uber wants to do everything except find people rides.

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.

Wow....salute to this

"US Army hoping to learn from Uber's UAV killing machines"

It's called the Uber CrowdControl™ technology. It could prove useful in enemy territory when surrounded by hostile forces.

If not, they activate Surge.

It's about time i can order a black M1 Abrams to get me to the club in style!

Are they going to equip all Uber cars with a standard charge of explosive in case one of their customer need to disapear?

I wonder if any Uber staff will resign in protest. I wonder if customers and drivers in countries not entire aligned with US imperialism will vote with their feet too.

US imperialism? Go away troll.

Afghanistan. Iraq. Central America. Indonesia. Korea. Vietnam. We can do this for a while and that's just the overt military interventions not counting colonization by American business and capitalist ideology.

One would think Uber has enough problems recruiting and retaining talented people, what with "go fast and break things (people)".

Now it's not just casual misogyny and user surveillance. Your work may actually kill people when used as intended.

> 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.

I don't think that's a fair criticism here.

The parent didn't say "Don't you know this will kill people!?" they said "This will kill people".

It also implied that this fact carries a certain value judgement, ignoring the reality that said value judgement may just as well be completely the opposite.

And what if the workers want to help kill terrorist/enemy combatants? I'm sure there is a significant portion of the population that would find this as a positive

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