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Actually drone delivery is much more simple than autonomous driving. Algorithm: grab package, fly up, fly directly to delivery point, drop package, all faster than driving. Compare to autonomous driving which needs to take into account road users (non-autonomous), traffic laws, visualization, etc and it's obvious why drones are more efficient and easier to program.

Assuming empty airspace, it's obvious why drones are easier to program. Assuming a single package it's obvious why drones are more efficient. Take away either of those assumptions and things get less obvious.

Those are very wrong assumptions. If a serious drone delivery program (or multiple competing ones) starts, airspace will suddenly become congested and you'll have to do heavy air traffic coordination to avoid mid-air collisions. And when you comapre with cars, you need to compare one delivery car with a hundred drones. Suddenly you see that drones are not efficient at all, which is kind of obvious, as it takes a lot of energy to keep stuff in the air with active propulsion.

I always pictured trucks driving from distribution centers, and deploying drones that cover an area. That way the drones only have to cover a small distance, reducing the number of drones that have to fly over a given area.

Mobile drone hubs seems like a very interesting solution, which could even be more energy-efficient than just trucks or just drones. Somehow I never thought of that, thanks!

Airspace is big. A central registry where drones announce their flight plans, allowing other drones to selfishly avoid them, would allow for plenty of room for drones to make sure they stay out of each other's way.

I'm skeptical on drones, and I think all this is an effort by Amazon to get in the news. But this doesn't seem like the problem.


Sort of, but as long as all drones (in this airspace) are automated, it's still an easier problem than self-driving cars. Just detecting where a road is is a feat, and then throw in other traffic, and then say that traffic is driven by people, who tend to behave irrationally by a computer's/programmer's typical definitions of "rational". Then there are traffic controls, construction, and the like.

Amazon's idea is to have airspace dedicated to autonomous drones, who can go from a to b in a straight line and mostly just have to worry about not hitting other drones (or buildings or birds or what have you). You can do that with some decent sensors and some simple physics simulations.

That's not to say that airspace is totally unregulated, but the regulations tend to be much broader (AFAIK; I'm not a pilot).


Collision avoidance is far easier in three dimensions than in two. Those extra degrees of freedom are crucial. (Of course, traffic capacity is much higher.)

It is only the severity of an accident that increases, not the likeliness.


Except that they don't need to do the R&D on the cars.

Hi Kat, considering applying for a hardware-based startup. I have enough savings to quit my current job for 2 months but the 12k would be enough to build a few prototypes. Would you consider a robotics-based startup?

Yes - we are considering hardware-based startups. We know $12k isn't a lot to get a hardware company going. We'd ask that you tell us in the application how you plan to make progress in the short amount of time, with a small amount of funding.

Interview with the author here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/octopuses-expand-the-moral-universe-s...

ph0rque, in addition to all the good ideas here, think about a solution to the problem that all gardens and farms have - that what you want is not always at the right harvesting time. Ie: if I want to eat a carrot, I want it now, not in 2 months. How can you solve that problem with your system? Bigger volume? Exchange with neighbours with their own AMF? etc... Also I'm definatly with @sama on the Nespresso model. Don't even bother selling seeds because some will not even germinate. Sell the pods (biodegradable of course) that "plug" into a prepared receptacle.

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Thanks for the insight, jonnycowboy. I'll think about the problem you pose. It can be somewhat mitigated by staggered planting (in the case of carrots) and continuously-fruit-bearing plants (e.g. some tomatoes), but there must be a better, more elegant solution.

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It seems most of the code behind this effort is open source as well! http://lfd.readthedocs.org/en/latest/ https://github.com/cbfinn/caffe

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Austerity has already been debunked as being the best way to economic advancement / recovery, even the IMF agrees: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/30/reinhart-rogoff-deb...

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Do you think a person working full time should be classified as poor?

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If you're working full-time doing work that has very little market value, then yeah, you're going to be poor.

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Yes. If you're some teenager selling ice cream for the summer and being taken care of by your parents, you shouldn't be making $35,000 a year.

The larger question, of course, should be answered by the customers of McDonalds or Target. Are they willing to pay twice the cost of goods so everyone who works there can make more money? Probably not, and those businesses will probably fold. Now you have everyone complaining about unemployment and the lack of affordable goods. Do you pass yet another law to make those cheap? Who pays for this stuff in the end? You can't economically dictate everything unless you want to migrate into command-economy communism, and the world tried that fairly recently with disastrous results.

Not to mention price inflation for common goods once the local econony has everyone getting $15 an hour. Great, now everything costs more and the people who weren't minimum didn't get a raise.

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this is a ridiculously warped view on minimum wage

1) The average age of a minimum age worker is 35, and 88% are not teenagers. So no, the example in your first line should not be "you're some teenager", it's "you're a parent working two jobs and still on food stamps". http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/10/upshot/minimum-wage.html

2) Talking about the cost of goods doubling is straight-up fear-mongering. Walmart set their minimum wage to $9, so raising it to $15 wouldn't even be doubling if minimum wage labor was literally their only cost of business. That's not even close to true, of course, but let's be generous and assume it's 1/3 of their sales minus CGS (~120B, so 40B). Their sales were ~500B last year, so with literally no other changes, they would only have to raise prices by 5% to go to $15 minimum wage.

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Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Take this table for example, where your linked article got its information: http://www.cepr.net/blogs/cepr-blog/update-low-wage-worker-1...

Notice anything interesting about the age bands?

16 - 19 (4 years)

20 - 24 (4 years)

25 - 34 (10 years (!))

35 - 64 (30 years (!!!))

65+ (? years)

The 35 - 64 band is especially egregious because it includes both people at the peak of their careers and retirees (who often take throwaway jobs to stay busy or supplement early SS @ 62).

Ok, so everyone's got an agenda, no real news there. The money shot is here:

> “All of us used to think minimum wage meant a wage you could live on,” de Blasio said

Wat? Who used to think that? Roosevelt didn't think that when he introduced the FLSA, actually the major win there was the abolition of child labor in America. At some point the thought around minimum wage went from "the minimum amount you have to pay so you're not basically whipping child slaves all day" to "the wage we need to buy iPhones and 2 cars".

The actual question is, what level of lifestyle should minimum wage/basic income/whatever support? Is that level adjusted for local prices, or do you have to live in a "designated poor person area" to survive (ie, is the amount the same in SF as it is an Akron)? What about if someone blows all their BI on liquor or gambling and becomes homeless, do we give them more? Who is responsible?

I don't have the answers, and ultimately the discussion is pointless because no group of people will ever agree on this.

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... are you replying to the right comment? i didn't talk for a second about what de Blasio said, and those age bands don't do anything about the stat i cited: that 88% of minimum wage employees are 20 or older.

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I was responding to the "average age is 35" portion; the average is useless without more discreet bands because the post-retirement and going back to work post-empty-nest communities are so large. 88% being non-teens is a meaningless metric without more information -- I had a few minimum-wage jobs in college, and I was not a teenager then.

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> The actual question is, what level of lifestyle should minimum wage/basic income/whatever support?

Enough to enable the barista, garbage collector, concierge, etc, to live in the same city they work in. It produces nicer cities. Like reserving and maintaining park-space, it's a cost you pay for for a nice place to live.

If some coffee shops want to automate, great. They'll be competing with vending machines, not the remaining human-staffed cafes.

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They can live in those cities already. They're not buying houses, but they can live there.

Again the question is what standard of living is the goal? Homeownership? Eating out? New electronics? That's the question that will never have a universal answer.

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>> The larger question, of course, should be answered by the customers of McDonalds or Target. Are they willing to pay twice the cost of goods so everyone who works there can make more money?

In most cases the cost of labor is not a large percentage of the purchase price. When the cost of labor is doubled, passing this on to the consumer will not double the price. In many cases it won't even be close.

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For fast food it certainly is the largest cost. Other industries are different, but shops with a brick and mortar presence often are wage bound.

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So the 6 dollars I pay for a fast food lunch take nearly a man-hour of labor? Once you get beyond the few minutes of handling my individual order its all bulk back to the source, so I have a hard to time believing that. OTOH the prices farmers get paid would suggest you're correct.

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One argument that can be made is that everyday services are needed and won't be automated in the near future. Also, rich people like going to cafes and restaurants, and it's nice to live in a place where everybody goes out in the city.

So, you end up with places like Australia and Switzerland where wages are high, but everyday costs are very high. I would be shocked if this didn't end up happening in the US.

Ultimately, do we want a two-class society, or do we want something more egalitarian (Brazil vs Germany)? I know which one I prefer living in!

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>Also, rich people like going to cafes and restaurants

I wouldn't use restaurants as some example of progressive and egalitarian labor. They're the number one source of black market labor today, let alone what would happen if you double these wages.

>I know which one I prefer living in!

The countries with the terrible disparities in living are usually the ones that flirted with communism in the past and are largely socialist and anti-free market today. They put in these policies which caused depressed entrepreneurial activities, lack of free markets, heavy corruption, etc and have a legacy of poverty from these failed leftist policies. More leftist policies aren't the solution here (see: Greece).

>(Brazil vs Germany)

New data shows Germany is not egalitarian. In fact, its the worst in the EU.

Earlier this year, the German Economic Institute (DIW) had released a study indicating that contrary to common conceptions, Germany had the most unequal distribution of wealth in the eurozone.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/23/wealth-gap-ineq...

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I live in Quebec where we have no-fault insurance for what you would consider "criminal liability". ie: if somebody accidentally or incidentally hits your car, and you can no longer work for the rest of your life, the state (province) pays. Upside is insurance rate are very low. Downside is license plates (state income) are very high (2-300$ for car plates/year and up to 1200$/year in motorcycle plates). For car insurance itself, you can still have at fault but it just determines who's insurance pays and who's insurance rates will go up.

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> Downside is license plates (state income) are very high (2-300$ for car plates/year and up to 1200$/year in motorcycle plates). For car insurance itself, you can still have at fault but it just determines who's insurance pays and who's insurance rates will go up.

Huh, so costs are properly internalized. Again, well done Canada.

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Planes with four engines are certainly not designed to fly with 3 of 4 engines out...

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Indeed, planes are not designed to be flown in that configuration normally, but they are certainly capable of single-engine flight in emergency situations (where the alternative would be "flying like a ton of bricks"). Exhibit A: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Airways_Flight_9

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No, actually "capable of flying" means capable of performing all flight maneuvers required for safe flight and landing, including takeoff, go-around and approach/landing. BA Flight 9 failed all four engines, normally not survivable - but managed to restart all four engines by windmilling. So they recovered in time for landing.

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Just curious, where did you find that definition of "capable of flying"? Because under that definition a glider ( unless it is a motorize glider ) is not "capable of flying".

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Okay, under that definition, you are correct. Note that the flight later lost engine #2 again (incidentally making the record of five engine failures on a single flight), so it landed with 3 engines operational.

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I also work in aerospace software. Following DO178 certainly does not guarantee that there will be no software bugs. The point of DO178 is to follow a process that will _minimize_ the number of bugs by having adequate peer review processes throughout the requirement definition, coding, integration phases, in addition to the testing you mention above. Testing DO178 only tests that the code follows the requirements. If your requirements are fucked, so are you.

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That is certainly one source for error. There are many. Another is that testing does not give you exhaustive coverage of the state space just because each branch of the code is visited.

The standard does mention "formal verification/methods/proof" but to my knowledge it's rarely been used extensively.

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Mathworks makes a sat solver kinda product that does those kinds of proofs. Pretty interesting concept, IMO.

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