Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dark Skies Ahead

They aren't storm clouds, either:

"No longer a dream: Silicon Valley takes on the flying car" by John Markoff New York Times  April 25, 2017

CLEARLAKE, Calif. — The tech industry is fond of disrupting things, and lately the automakers have been a big target. Cars that use artificial intelligence to drive themselves, for example, have been in development for a few years and can be spotted on roads in a number of cities. And now, coming onto the radar screen, are flying machines that look like something Luke Skywalker would have built out of spare parts.

First of all, the cars have all sorts of bugs and glitches to them so slow down a minute. 

The second thing to note is the initial presentation being one of fun, Star Wars stuff (cue music)!

More than a dozen startups backed by deep-pocketed industry figures like Larry Page, a Google founder — along with big aerospace firms like Airbus, the ride-hailing company Uber and even the government of Dubai — are taking on the dream of the flying car.

The approaches by the companies vary and the realization of their competing visions seems far in the future, but they have one thing in common: a belief that one day regular people should be able to fly their vehicles around town.

Regular people. 

As opposed to what, IRREGULAR PEOPLE!?? 

I mean, the self-internalized elitism and supremacism coming from the reporter with him not even knowing it is troubling when you see what they really think of you. To put it metaphorically, the clouds parted and a ray of sunshine just came through. 

There are challenges, with both the technology and government regulations. Perhaps the biggest hurdle will be convincing the public that the whole idea isn’t crazy.

That's a hard sell these days.

“I love the idea of being able to go out into my backyard and hop into my flying car,” said Brad Templeton, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has served as a consultant on Google’s self-driving project. “I hate the idea of my next-door neighbor having one.”

That, in a nutshell, is the problem with today's ruling elite: It's not enough for them to have and live and let live; they need to impoverish you, too! All for them and nothing for the.... people? They can't even stand the idea of the guy next door maybe having one better on them. $ick!

Kitty Hawk, the company backed by Page, is trying to be one of the first out of the gate and plans to start selling its vehicle by the end of the year.

Named after the Wright brothers?

The company has attracted intense interest because of Page and its chief executive, Sebastian Thrun, an influential technologist and self-driving car pioneer who is the founding director of Google’s X lab.

Then the flight was cut short(?):

"Kitty Hawk could face stiff competition, not just from about a half dozen start-ups, but from the giant Airbus, headquartered in Blagnac, France. The aerospace firm has announced two different vertical takeoff and landing, or VTOL, concepts and is reported to be planning an initial test flight before the end of the year. 

French have other things on their minds right now.

At the Geneva International Motor Show last month, Airbus proposed an autonomous vehicle named Pop.Up that would operate on the ground and in the air. And this year, the government of Dubai, in partnership with a Chinese firm, EHang, said it planned to begin operating an autonomous flying taxi in July. Also, Uber is expected on Tuesday to detail its “vision for the future of Urban Air Mobility” at a conference in Dallas. 

Pretty soon they will not be needing human drivers -- and that was supposed to be the gig of the future, hire yourself out as a taxi!

There is already significant resistance to the idea of unmanned drones flying over urban areas, and flying cars could face substantial opposition, even if they can be quieted to automotive noise levels.

For these personal air vehicles to become a reality in the United States, the country would need a new air traffic control system

They can't even run one they have! Lockheed was given almost $3 billion for a pos air traffic control system and airports are now back on analog radio waves and spinning dials

TSA will give you a good going over though!!!

Two years ago, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration began development of an air traffic control system meant for managing all sorts of flying vehicles, including drones. One NASA developer described it as an air traffic control system, “for a sky dark with drones.” Researchers hope testing can begin by 2019."

We've gone from Star Wars, duh-duh-duh-duh-duh, to the Terminator!


Someone said something about “the laws of physics and gravity,” but that's from a pre$$ that tells us three towers were felled at free-fall speed (one not even hit by a plane) by jet fuel fires in contravention to those very laws so.... 

Oh, here's a package for you:

"Americans are skittish about drones delivering their packages" by Brian Fung Washington Post  October 12, 2016

WASHINGTON — The biggest barriers to drone delivery may actually be perceptual as much as technological.

Imagery and illusion is everything to these people!

Even if a company said its drone delivery service were ready today, people would still reject it over a perception that it was not.

Yeah, we dumb dolts out here don't know what's going on.

The actual problem is we no longer believe any of this elitist, agenda-pushing swill that is either a fabrication (at worst) or distortion (at best). That's my "perception" anyway.

Still, many other countries are moving ahead with drone testing in a major way, while the United States only recently gave companies the green light to begin limited tests, according to Michael Drobac, a legal expert on drones at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

‘‘What appears to be science fiction or many years off is actually happening — just not here,’’ Drobac said.

When can I get my land-speeder?

This gap between public receptiveness to a technology on the one hand and the actual state of the technology on the other can be found in other industries, too.

Whether it’s drones, self-driving cars, or even the Internet, the less someone has heard about a technology — and the more they think of it as new or unfamiliar — the less likely it is that they will view it positively. As a person learns about the technology, the more open to it that person becomes.

With self-driving cars, studies by Kelley Blue Book and others have found that those with partly autonomous vehicles — a Tesla with autopilot, or even more basic safety features such as automatic lane-keeping and assistive cruise control — are more likely to view completely robotic cars more favorably.

I wouldn't hitchhike if I were you:

"Tesla Inc. recalled 53,000 Model S and Model X vehicles to replace electronic parking brakes that may not release properly. Vehicles assembled between February and October last year contain a small gear that could have been manufactured improperly by Tesla’s supplier. If that gear were to break, the parking brake could become stuck in place, the company said. Only a ‘‘very small percentage’’ were manufactured improperly, the company said, adding it hasn’t seen ‘‘a single accident or injury’’ relating to the brake issue. Meanwhile a group of vehicle owners sued Tesla, claiming its autopilot feature is “dangerously defective” when engaged. In a complaint filed Wednesday in federal court in San Jose, Calif., consumers allege their cars — purchased for $81,000 to $113,000 — veer off lanes while often “lurching, slamming on the brakes for no reason, and failing to slow or stop when approaching other vehicles” when autopilot is activated."

That's all right, R2, I'd like to keep it on manual fire a while (droid whirs and beeps).

‘‘Familiarity breeds desire,’’ Rebecca Lindland, senior director of commercial insights at Kelley Blue Book, said in a recent interview.


Have you seen the levels of infidelity, failing marriages, and divorce rates in the country? 

How about sharing a prison cell, or even an office?

All I'm saying is sometimes the feelings can go the other way. 

Sorry for darkening the mood and raining on the parade.

It’s true that some technological and regulatory hurdles need to be cleared before drone delivery becomes a reality.

Should be easy enough. We have lift-off!

For example, the US government needs to draw up rules permitting companies such as Amazon to test their drones outside the visual range of the pilot, a stepping-stone to true drone delivery, but if the idea is to really take off, companies will need to convince consumers that it will actually improve their lives.

Tell it to the laid-off delivery driver first.

‘‘The usual history is that people are pretty content with what they know, what they have, and adopting an innovation does take substantial effort,’’ said Ben Shneiderman, an expert on human-computer interaction at the University of Maryland. ‘‘The question becomes, ‘Which are innovations that may be more acceptable to people, and how might a manufacturer accelerate adoption?’ ’’


And if the package doesn't arrive you can send out a search drone:

"Grand Canyon chief ranger Matt Vandzura said drones can offer ‘‘that same close look but without putting any people at risk. It has dramatically increased our ability to keep our people safe.’’ While the aerial search for the two hikers came up empty, it threw a spotlight on technology that can enter crevices and other rugged spots unreachable by foot while sparing searchers the dangers of going up in a helicopter...."

Well, at least you won't have to worry about it getting pilfered from the porch during delivery.