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Perhaps a contractor is defrauding the government, submitting an open source project as their own development work?

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The feds didn't negotiate anything, the article the company sponsoring Data Tables is planning to take action against the government.

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Actually the shooter initially pled guilty. Dept. of Justice looked at these "questions" and concluded they are junk.

http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/crm/mlk/part2.php#over

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I bring it up only to mention that it is perhaps not so cut and dry who shot MLK...

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Mandarin is not widely spoken in Hong Kong-- locals speak Cantonese and Mandarin was not taught in school while HK was under British rule.

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Yes, but lots of people speak Mandarin now, either for doing business with the PRC or because they are PRC immigrants.

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Certainly I know this about Cantonese, but I'm just relating to you what I had read.

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Costco is more concentrated in higher wage, higher cost states on the West Coast. They'd love to extend California wage rates to Walmart's red state operations.

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Society's income, or capacity to work, isn't a fixed pie.

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I'm not sure if that point is intended to support or reject GMI.

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It isn't "fear" of change, it is that political systems get captured by status quo interest groups that fight against change.

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I don't know that it's just that. Car and driver ran a fearmongering editorial about it in their most recent issue. ("We can't trust them with our credit cards and now they want us to trust them to drop little Sally off at the pool?") There will definitely be grassroots backlash.

My guess is that comfort with this as a concept will be generational, as are lots of things. I like the idea a lot, but I also will miss driving. I doubt my daughter will miss driving in the slightest.

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I doubt my daughter will miss driving in the slightest.

I don't think anybody will miss driving in traffic, but until there's some other way to experience the combined sense of control, shifting G-forces, and the world streaming by, manual driving on sparsely populated roads will always be desirable.

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Preaching to the choir. :) But my point is that I doubt she will have experienced enough of that to miss it.

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See Chris Paine's 2006 documentary 'Who Killed the Electric Car?' for background on the politics of transportation in California. Hopefully Google will be up to task.

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Of course Google has a lot more influence in the California legislature than any car manufacturer. I'm not sure you could get this passed in Michigan or Detroit.

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Or that the people who can see the benefits never show up to try to convince anyone.

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Where's the anti-robot car lobby? I doubt most cabbies are even aware of this.

Further, I would submit that this is mostly due to the legislators themselves.

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The anti-robot truck lobby will probably come out in full force soon.

A trucker that doesn't have to 1) eat 2) sleep 3) experience fatigue -- this trucker is vastly superior. There is already a lot of analytics measuring truck performance, metrics which would make autonomous trucks very feasible.

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Here is a political ad against someone who supported self-driving cars.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUuBXCEWOhc&feature=playe...

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Wow! Just wow!

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And this is the true market for robotic vehicles (at least at the outset).

Transport trucks spend hours on interstates between points going in relatively straight lines, at relatively low traffic times.

The trucking industry will be dead 5-10 years after robot trucks start appearing on the road.

EDIT: Sorry "trucking industry" should be in quotes, as yes, by this I mean the idea of people driving trucks, which is 90% of the "industry". The actual industry itself isn't going anywhere, agreed. My fault in the miscommunication.

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I'm pretty sure that long-haul truckers are well under half the truck driving profession. Pay attention to the number of semi-trucks delivering food and other products to schools / restaurants / convenience stores etc. Oh and those drivers have to unload the shipments as well. I don't think the truck industry will disappear, but there will be a shift in the mix of long-haul vs. short-haul truckers.

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The "shift" as you put it will be very temporary though. It will quite quickly become common place for all commercial vehicles to be self directing once some vehicles are. (Think FedEx, UPS leading this charge)

That said, that "shift" is when it's going to be a really, really shitty time to be a truck driver, as the influx of people competing for fewer and fewer jobs is going to drive prices (wages) down into pits of dark despair.

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With FedEx and UPS you still need someone to drop the package in the mailbox...

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Sure, but now that person doesn't need a commercial drivers licence, or a licence at all.

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This is a very important point. Not just that, but the "offload person" won't be a member of the teamster's union (seeing as how they aren't actually driving the truck) and will have a more reasonable wage.

As chollida1 points out, UPS/Fedex may not be allowed to lift the CLD requirement quite yet, but that will probably come in time.

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IIRC, If you are under 26,001 Lbs GVW you don't legally need a CDL (unless Hazmat). Some carriers like UPS/FedEX may require a CDL anyway, but that is a company policy.

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> Sure, but now that person doesn't need a commercial drivers licence, or a licence at all.

I'm pretty sure the laws stipulate that a licensed driver must be in the drivers seat.

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I'm not really thinking FedEX or UPS, I'm thinking of the driver for Reinhart food services delivering food to my son's school. That is a Semi-truck backed into a very small parking lot and he has to hustle a dozen or more two wheel hand trucks full of food/supplies off the truck to the kitchen, before he goes on to another school/hospital/restaurant.

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Not so much the industry as trucker as a profession. Trucks will be all over the place, just not driven by humans.

And then there's all the service stops which now offer food, etc for truckers. I expect few of them will successful transition to serve tourists exclusively.

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The industry will be just fine. It's just the truck driver profession that will die.

The existing actors, however, might well be unable to drive that transition and they might consequently die and be replaced by other, new actors.

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It depends on how good their marketing is. Trucks will initially probably still need a human in the cab. Truckers often drive in pairs so that the rig can be rolling for 20-22 hours per day. The way you get drivers to embrace the technology is by lobbying for laws that would allow a single driver to be at the wheel for, say, 14-16 hours at a time.

That's enough for a pair of drivers to keep the truck on the road continuously, and maybe almost enough to make it worthwhile to have just a single driver (so the cab owner doesn't have to split his profits with anyone). After gradually raising hours over the course of a few years, you can declare drivers optional. Owner-operators would still ride in the cab so they could handle pickup and delivery of trailers, but fleet owners might just hire drivers on the spot for things like that.

Edit: My (mis)understanding of trucking hours of service was based on a conversation with a truck drive a few months ago. Apparently, you can drive 14 hours continuously after taking 10 hours off. However, I think the point still stands that truck drivers will be less resistant to the introduction of robotic trucks if they perceive the change as a (at least short-term) benefit to them by increasing allowable driving time.

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Luckily, truck drivers don't just drive. For a lot of short haul trucking (and probably long haul), they have to load and unload the truck.

And fix the truck when it breaks down (if possible). And deal with problems when the wrong shipment goes to the wrong place, etc.

And protect the contents of the truck.

Driving is just one piece.

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Freight prices are low enough that I saw a company complaining that they can't afford the insurance on inexperienced drivers. So it at least has the potential to be a short term problem.

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Truckers are safe as long as the bots require a human standby at all times. Their job will be much easier.

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I imagine the teamster's don't like the idea. Insurance companies and similar businesses may also have a bone to pick with the idea.

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I'm hoping insurance companies are for self driving cars. I also expect a very serious conflict between teamsters and companies like UPS and FedEx, which employ a lot of drivers.

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As an interesting side-note, FedEx was buying adds a while ago complaining about the "Brown Bailout." Apparently there was some to-do about how UPS's pilots were part of the teamster's union (or its drivers were part of the pilot's union--I don't remember--in any case, FedEx didn't like it). For that reason, I wonder if we'll see a third player (maybe Amazon) enter the local delivery market because it doesn't have to deal with legacy contracts with the teamsters.

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I think that fedex and ups will use them only for the long haul driving and still employ a lot of drivers at the last mile delivery points.

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High marginal tax rates in Europe take away the incentive to create a startup, and the governments there confiscate much more of the winnings from successful companies. That, in turn, ensures that there is little venture capital to invest in the next generation of startups.

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I strongly disagree. I suspect you are looking at this from the 'American Dream' capitalist point of view. Our tax rates might be higher, but this is more than balanced out by our strong social security and healthcare systems which allow us to take risks a silicon valley startup couldn't dream of.

I can only speak for the UK (and lumping all of Europe together is pretty foolish given that it has a range of countries from borderline 3rd world to international superpowers) but in London the tech scene is very much alive and well. I myself work for a middle aged startup (going through some horrible growing pains just now), I love to get involved in the London tech scene and I've talked with plenty of people doing well from startups.

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Strong social security like in Greece? At some point the system isn't going to assist you much when it doesn't exist. Nor will capitalism either, as we'll all be flying kites made of dollar bills inevitably :)

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Well Greece's case is a strong social safety net coupled with rampant tax evasion. A better and to pick in my opinion would be Germany. They have a high tax rate and are an export machine as I understand.

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Much of Europe has similar effective tax rates as the US. The difference is the US tax rate is taken out in a lot of separate taxes at the SS, Medicare, Income tax (federal) + State income tax, sales tax, property taxes + local sales taxes, property taxes. Plus Debt and a wide range of fines and fees. Where Europe has no EU wide taxes and it's all taken out at the 'state' and local level.

PS: Per person the US government spends as much on healthcare as many countries with 'national' healthcare so we are paying for it even if we don't have universal healthcare.

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I don't know what you consider "similar", but the US does have significantly lower effective tax rates (by 10-15%) than most of Europe: http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/09/effective-...

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That's simply ignoring state and local government spending. Ed: And possibly Medicare. It's also ignoring the 50% of company matching medicare which is paid by the self employed.

http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/numbers?units=p

PS: As a sanity check. Federal (24.33 GDP -3.72%GDP given to the sates) State spending is 8.97% of GDP, local 10.69%, which adds up to 40.27% GDP. Note: Actual revenue is only 32.61% GDP because we are just borrowing that much money but debt does get paid back one way or another. http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com/year_revenue_2012USpn_13p...

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the governments there confiscate much more of the winnings from successful companies

What? Citation needed? In some countries they give money to startups, not the other way around.

And how you you explain "high tax rates" when Barack Obama refers to some countries in the EU as a tax haven?

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This practice is part of the problem. It is bidding up the cost of apartments for locals who need a place to live.

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In general, the people who have 2nd vacation homes buy single family houses or condominium apartments. They don't rent, because that doesn't get them ownership of anything. The 2nd home is generally a more speculative investment than anything else.

So no, they're not really pushing up the costs of rental apartments, because they're not in that market segment at all.

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Meh. It's the software engineers making $150,000 each bidding up the cost of apartments more than it is J Random Tourist-Supplemented Income dude.

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I have no idea if AirBnB does that to apartment rents but I do know that some formerly sleepy coastal towns became too expensive (in recent decades) for locals to buy a house due to second homes being bought there by wealthy non-residents. I have no idea how to fix such a problem but I know it is real.

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A wealthy "investor" in a rigged game-- a company backed by half a billion dollars in taxpayer loan guarantees-- gets a new toy car. A car for which there is no market and is worse for the environment than regular cars, as it relies on toxic batteries and an inefficient power grid that is majority coal burning.

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It's strange to say there is no market for a car that has a 10,000 person waiting list (with a $5,000 down payment to be on it) before anyone had actually gotten behind the wheel. I'd say that's pretty damn good and already close to a billion dollar market.

Mercedes "only" sold 9,804 S-Class models in the US last year. Maybe they'll step it up.

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Doesn't stop me from wanting to buy one (badly). If only they exported to Europe (hey, we send you our cars, so why not return the love?).

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Out of interest, what appeals to you about the Tesla S? It's clearly a lovely bit of technology but personally I can't get past the idea of the limited range (maximum of 300 miles) and obvious potential difficulties around recharging.

[NB I'm in no way implying that anyone has to justify their tastes in cars (or anything else) - I'm just interested!]

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For one thing, that limited range is much less a concern in densely populated Western Europe. I'm Dutch and from my home town, I can drive not just to the nearest border but literally anywhere in the country. Admittedly that's only one way but also without charging at all along the way.

Second, the fuel prices are much higher. Petrol is $8.21 / gallon, so the fuel economics are very different.

Third, road taxes, VAT, car registration, etc. all offer steep discounts or zero-rates for electric vehicles.

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How often do you actually drive 200+ miles in a single day? Personally I have averaged 8k miles per year over the last 5 years and renting a car for the single long trip 340 miles I have made over that time period is not exactly a big deal.

PS: People talk about how long it takes to get a full charge but if you can add 100 miles to the range in an hour while your stopped for lunch that bumps the daily range to 400 which would have more than covered me, but they can apparently get close to a full charge in 45 minutes.

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Any chance you're from Europe? A saying that I appreciate having spent a large chunk of last year in Europe: "Australians/Americans think that 100 years is a long time, while Europeans think that 100 km is a long distance"

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> How often do you actually drive 200+ miles in a single day?

At least once a week we're close enough that 200 miles is our "with a reasonable safety margin" number.

BTW - when I'm driving 400 miles in a day, I don't spend an hour eating lunch on the way. (It's very hard to average 50 miles an hour, so 400 miles is around 8 hours. I've actually done far more, and you can't do that if you're off the road.) And, why are you assuming that the lunch place will have the relevant charging station?

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It sounds like this car would not be a good fit for you. I would recommend that you not purchase one.

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I was responding to the insinuation that needing to drive 200+ miles regularly is almost unknown and the claim that an hour-long charge is acceptable for long distance trips.

In other words "nobody needs what it doesn't do" is wrong as is "it can handle that situation".

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"How often do you actually drive 200+ miles in a single day?"

I'm probably not an average driver - I don't drive at all during the week (walk to work and pretty much everywhere else, taxi to airport) but when I do drive to go walking/cycling/skiing the total I drive in a weekend is probably close to 300 miles - either in one day or parking car where recharging won't be available.

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As a data point, I'm about to get rid of a car that has a range of about 240 miles or so (12 mpg). I drove it infrequently and for shortish distances so it didn't bother me at all.

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You don't need to drive 200+ miles a day often to make it a requirement for a car. Emergencies, spontaneous road trips, trips to relatives, etc, are all unusual but crucial.

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There is an episode of Top Gear where Clarkson shows off his newly purchased Ford Blow-job (or something). And the other presenters move in for the kill. Clarkson clearly knew what was coming ...

  - How many miles per gallon do you get?
  - Errr..
  - Is it 4 miles per gallon?
  - And how big is the tank?
  - Errr
  - Only enough room for 19 gallons?
  - Err, yes.
  - So thats 76 miles on one tank?
  - Err Yes
  - And how far away from the office do you live?
  - Err, 77 miles.
Yes, Clarkson was willing to buy a car that would need refilling every time he drove to or from the office.

Seriously, do not worry about "only 300 miles and I will need to charge it". People will buy it, and then go look for a plug in station.

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Not the best example to pick - didn't he return his Ford GT for quality problems and describe the short time he had it as "The most miserable month’s motoring it is possible to imagine."?

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While this is hilarious. It's important to remember that charging EV cars isn't as fast as refueling at the moment. Maybe eventually though.

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I think 300 miles is plenty for most people (for me definitely). Most people drive less than 30 miles a day. I could even drive from DC to Pittsburgh without having to recharge (about 240 miles).

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Actually, Daimler-Mercedes bought 10% of Tesla a month before the U.S. government announced the loan. U.S. taxpayers are going to get the downside if the company fails but the European automaker gets the upside if it makes it. Well played.

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I think natural gas electrical generation + electric cars is a lot more likely to happen than natural gas vehicles (CNG or LNG). To the extent that NG displaces coal (which is already happening due to cost of NG being so low, at least in the US; we could accelerate it with regulation or long-term fuel contracts when building new plants), it's a big win.

From a security (vs. environmental) perspective, burning US coal is superior to importing oil.

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Not exactly streaming out of the showrooms are they?

They remain very much a toy but maybe one day someone will be able to build one that will work on a practical day to day basis.

I feel there is a lot of mileage (pun intended) in the "diesel electric" combination where the juice is generated by an internal combustion engine that can be run very efficiently and then fed to the electric drive (with a small battery back-up for peak demands).

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I am going to assume that your first comment is directed at a "lack of interest" from buyers in "Showrooms". I am pretty sure all the 2013 models have been pre-sold, and the waiting list for the next year is 1500 deep.

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> "...it relies on toxic batteries..."

http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/teslas-closed-loop-battery-r...

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So many citations needed

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Tesla gets crony capitalist, Solyndra-type loan with the worst terms possible for taxpayers: http://www.thecuttingedgenews.com/index.php?article=53001...

http://techcrunch.com/2009/06/23/the-government-comes-throug...

Coal is majority of the U.S. power grid: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/coalvswind/c01.html

Tesla batteries are cleaner than older versions, but they contain some Cobalt, and Lithium has many impacts and risks for humans.

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I can't find the half billion figure for Tesla in that article (only for Fisker).

Also, Tesla is a public company and therefore discloses their finantials. Their total debt is 270M, and they have 280M in cash (therefore, negative net debt).

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Here's some more info:

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-05-11/tesla-to-begin-r...

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I think they've just announced that they will be the first EV company to start paying their debt to the Government by the end of the year or something. If there's a good side to Government funding at all, it's this - investing in future technology that starts being useful right away, and can become mainstream within 10 years, which is a much better investment than subsidizing something like the oil industry for many decades, even though they keep scoring record profits.

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If it can become useful and mainstream right away, why do they need government funding?

And to point out the obvious, the Federal government extracts far more money from the oil companies (and hence oil consumers) by way of gas taxes than it pays out in subsidies.

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As I see it, the government's real pay-off isn't Tesla paying back it's loans, but rather is the increase in energy policy flexibility that is gained if EVs become popular. If it's easier to provide energy security, that reduces military burden and also reduces our need to be involved in some unfriendly parts of the world.

This payoff can't be captured by a private investor, so the government has incentive to invest earlier (and at higher risk levels) than private investors.

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Probably once LFTRs come in or we find other ways to get away from coal for energy this would stop being a toy and get rid of our reliance on gasoline for ever.

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By that standard, we should never develop any new technology, because in the process of developing ANY new technology (including wind power and solar power) you're going to generate some level of pollution, including most likely using fossil fuels. By your standard, we can never progress at all, and must eventually regress to a primitive state. If that had been followed, we could have NEVER developed solar panels, and so many other important, cleaner technologies.

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Look, Tesla is billed as being greener than traditional autos but it is not. Drawing power from the grid is amazingly wasteful, and is often COAL. Trading oil for coal is not an environmental win-- Tesla's basic premise is a fraud. It reminds me of ethanol, another big government effort for the "environment" which makes things worse.

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Unlike traditional vehicles, Tesla's cars have the potential to be run on nuclear, solar, or other future green energy sources as more and more of those options come online. One would think this goes without saying.

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Trading oil for coal is not an environmental win

It certainly is! Burning enough gas in a small engine to power a car is much more polluting than generating the same energy in a commercial-scale coal-power plant.

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I'll say this as a person who used to work for an electric utility that generated MOST of its power via coal.

It is MUCH, MUCH easier to control pollution at a point-source (like, say, a power plant) than it is to control pollution on a moving platform.

If you only knew the kinds of engineering efforts that have been devised to make the gasoline engine more efficient and less polluting, you might consider how much better electricity generation via fossil fuels will get if we were really serious about having an energy policy in the US.

SO far, there isn't a mechanism known yet for generating energy from a concentrated source that doesn't involve some form of pollution. Coal, nuclear, solar all have their by-products.

Once you account for externalities, there are very very few options that look great.

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Come drive in Washington State, where our grid is powered by the water which falls from our sky, as it flows back to the ocean.

Also WSDOT just installed 7 EV charging stations along Interstate 5: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/News/2012/05/30_newevstations.htm

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Electric vehicles are far more efficient than ordinary cars, over 80% including both the charging/uncharging of the batteries and the electric motor. Compare that with the 25% of ordinary cars. Even if all the electricity comes from coal, it is no worse than ordinary cars, since coal fired power plants also are more efficient than gas engines. That means that it is no worse than ordinary cars even in the worst case.

You can argue that to get more people to use public trasport is a bigger win, but to say electric vehicles is a fraud is just wrong.

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The top end Model S has a 85kWh battery pack and can get 265 miles on that charge according to the 5-point standard for MPGe set by the EPA. That's equivalent to just under 3 gallons of gas using the GGE conversion mechanism.

That's an amazing efficiency win.

So far, the biggest downside is the extended charge time. To fully recharge the car using the fastest charger, it's about 4-5 hours.

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I just switched one of my electric bills (Maine) to 100% wind power, and at the same rate (actually less for 1 year with promo discount, then the same).

Millions of toxic batteries are a problem, but I wouldn't be surprised if some future scientist/entrepeneur figures out something smart to do with them. It's not exactly nuclear waste.

Ethanol is indeed a scam at the moment, but when it can be harvested and processed by electric combines and new plants, it will be an effective way to store other clean energy.

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> It's not exactly nuclear waste.

I have strong faith that eventually we'll figure how to use even nuclear waste productively.

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They've already solved that one, at least partially. And it certainly seems likely to continue to progress in the right direction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveling_wave_reactor

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AIUI coal is still cleaner per mile than gasoline.

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Send me a car to Germany.

(Yeah, we have arguably too much coal here as well, but .. it's changing and the renewable energy changes are a relevant subject in elections)

1: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/05/26/us-climate-germany-... 2: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4028019 (the discussion regarding [1])

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