When losing $2.8 billion in one year is harshing your mellow, there’s always vaporware:
On Tuesday, Uber will kick off its very first “Elevate Summit,” a three-day conference in Dallas on vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft — more commonly known as “flying cars.”[…]
These VTOL (pronounced vee-toll) aircraft would operate using fixed wings with tilt prop-rotors. In other words, they would take off vertically like a helicopter, and then accelerate into forward flight using wing-borne lift.
Most notably, Uber said it wasn’t going to build its own flying car, but stood ready to “contribute to the nascent but growing VTOL ecosystem and to start to play whatever role is most helpful to accelerate this industry’s development.”
At least Uber isn’t building VTOL aircraft, because if they worked as well as their self-driving cars, they would be dropping from the sky on a regular basis. That would be some serious “disruption”.
Did you read the story that Uber was still tracking folks, even after they deleted their app. Apple called them on it, threatened them with dropping Uber from the App Store, and Uber backed down.
Very dumb question — VTOL is extremely ineffecient in everything except take-off zone space. Lots of emissions, lots of pollution, lots of noise. how many cities would actually want VTOL or even VSTOL low speed aircraft zipping around downtown as downtown are the only spot where congestion plus money congregate consistently.
@David Anderson: Agreed. VTOL for personal transport is a solution in search of a problem. (Rich guy fantasies of never having to deal w. traffic.)
Lots of cheaper, much more environmentally thriftier stuff to do first, from autonomous vehicles to an actual efficient transit system to all kinds of other, non-sexy stuff. This is more Silicon masturbation.
I think flying cars are even less likely than autonomous cars. The crash rate would be ridiculous. The people that could afford them are already using helicopters. The VTOL that seems the most promising has no wheels, so you would have to walk to your destination. This alone would probably kill the idea.
@David Anderson: there is a vtol that is all-electric with a claimed 300km range. Noise is likely to be a problem, however
Personal VTOL is stupid, but if that’s what you wanted to pursue, why wouldn’t you go with the time-tested model of the autogyro?
Here is an undereported tidbit about the fail that is Uber. Just this month, my department received e-mails telling us that Uber was still looking for summer interns. This is remarkably late for them to not have interns filled. Only lower tier companies waiting for the Google and Facebook rejects are looking this late.
@David Anderson: I don’t know how to get a link to show up
do a search for lilium
Jim, Foolish Literalist
I’m gonna be like the old man yelling “get a horse!” as a young Monty Burns chugs by in his Stanley Steamer
Smoke and mirrors for idiot investors. Uber knows that autonomous cars will put them out of business. They only stay solvent as long as people overlook this. Their “research” is a cover for industrial espionage.
Villago Delenda Est
Uber is a scam that will benefit only those at the very top. The VCs who gave them money have been screwed, they just don’t know it yet.
@Scott P.: Autogyros need runway, they aren’t vertical lift. They also are very tricky to fly, though not that much trickier then rotary-wing aircraft (i.e. helicopters) and they’re actually getting easier all the time. There was one that flew patrol in a recent Winter Olympics, no problems at all.
@Eric U.: A VTOL would be most useful in a large city, but that is the environment with the most buildings to try to avoid, and, even more worrisome, power lines and the like that cross streets.
@Scott P.: I recommend trebuchet
the thing that bothers me most about uber is that they think that lowering the price will increase business. So now they have lowered the price below a rate that makes economic sense for their drivers. The price was always a little low, that’s certainly not the issue that’s keeping me from using their service.
Villago Delenda Est
@rikyrah: Yes, that was great. “We know what you did, it breaks our rules, and you need to fix it now, or you are up shit creek without a paddle. Capisce?”
I would argue that the problem with self-driving cars isn’t the cars, it’s the humans that do irrational things that are the problem.
Either suspend the laws of thermodynamics if one doesn’t want to pay the staggering cost to provide pure vertical lift via an engine to make it affordable for the masses or just provide a few toys to the ultra-wealthy to flaunt their wealth.
@ArchTeryx: I remember Bell Helicopter test pilots had a lot of difficulty learning how to fly the Osprey, because apparently moving the rotors from vertical to horizontal position creates a lot of difficult to manage vortexes. The Osprey is also very poorly maneuverable in helicopter mode, meaning that operating such things in an urban environment will get a lot of people killed. Hopefully, Uber CEO and libertarian scum (OK, that term’s redundant) will be on the initial test flight in midtown Manhattan.
These things will require a certified pilot to operate, and outside Bell and the armed services, I don’t know where that training might be available. So you’re looking at either a vehicle that can handle at least two passengers, making it larger and more difficult to operate in an urban setting, or having a bunch of dopes who don’t know what they’re doing zipping around in the things until they kill themselves. Which will probably be about 10 minutes, but the crash will kill people in the vicinity as well.
Democratic Resolve in Georgia, Montana and Beyond
by D.R. Tucker April 24, 2017 7:55 AM
Ten years ago, then-Representative Martin Meehan (D-MA) resigned from the House to become chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Meehan’s Congressional seat had not been held by a non-Democrat since the early-1970s, and the prospects of the Republican Party capturing the seat in a special election seemed rather remote.
However, Republicans did not shrug their shoulders in resignation, conceding the race even before it began. Instead, the GOP rallied behind Jim Ogonowski, an anti-immigration zealot, in an attempt to pull off a blue-state upset over Democratic opponent Niki Tsongas, the widow of former Bay State Senator Paul Tsongas (who himself held Meehan’s Congressional seat in the mid-1970s). Ogonowski’s hate-mongering, terrorism-exploiting efforts nearly paid off, as E. J. Dionne noted in an October 2007 column:
If Republicans are willing to pursue victory in the face of long odds, why don’t Democrats do the same? There’s nothing wrong with angling for an upset victory: that is, in essence, what Ogonowski’s fellow Bay State Republican Scott Brown did in 2010…and what Donald Trump did in 2016. The idea that Democrats should now regard the Sixth Congressional District race in Georgia or the at-large Congressional District race in Montana as potentially lost causes is without merit.
Of course, if Democrats decide to make a serious effort to reclaim red-state territory, the question of to what extent ideological flexibility should be allowed in Democratic candidates must be resolved. The controversy over Vermont Senator (and yes, non-Democrat) Bernie Sanders’s support for an anti-choice Democratic mayoral candidate in Omaha, Nebraska is indicative of the conflicts that could come.
The Media’s Latest Campaign to Normalize Trump
After the Syria strikes, the press has mistakenly found new respect for Trump.
by Mike Lofgren April 24, 2017
One of the more annoying features of the most annoying presidential campaign in history was the mainstream media’s attempts to normalize candidate Donald Trump. Possibly this treatment arose because the press didn’t initially take him seriously enough to characterize him and his positions with the appropriate degree of horror. Sure, he’s crazy, but what are ya gonna do, they seemed to shrug. Meanwhile, he was good for ratings.
After a brief hiatus of barely concealed horror following his inauguration, the media is back to normalization, albeit with a new tack. As opposed to the campaign coverage’s tactic of normalization-by-trivialization, the new approach is one of strange new respect for a man who has grown into the job.
The occasion for this reappraisal was Trump’s ordering up a strike by 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on the Shayrat airbase in Syria. For all the theatrics of this military action, the strategic results were a lot less than would have met the eye of a credulous consumer of mainstream U.S. media accounts.
Nine Syrian aircraft were reported destroyed by the strike – as opposed to the 20 initially claimed by the Pentagon – but whatever the number of aircraft actually destroyed, Syrian aircraft took off from the base within 24 hours. More important, the cruise missile strike did not change the dynamic of the Syrian civil war to any measurable degree. To the extent the strike was simply checking a box and moving on, it may dampen whatever appetite existed in Washington to attempt to end the conflict and limit civilian suffering.
@Tom Levenson: Flying cars work great as long as the loser masses aren’t up there with you. Who wants to be stuck in traffic 100 feet off the ground?
March for Science reflects awakening of civic consciousness
04/24/17 08:30 AM—UPDATED 04/24/17 08:35 AM
By Steve Benen
The timing was striking. On Friday afternoon, for no apparent reason, the Trump administration asked U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to resign. This was not a case in which Obama-era officials are replaced with new political appointees after an election; the surgeon general serves a four-year term, and Murthy still had roughly two years remaining.
Why would Donald Trump dismiss an accomplished and successful physician without explanation? Perhaps because the president lacks a meaningful appreciation for science – a point that was driven home nicely the day after Murthy was shown the door.
And while that may sound like a modest total, let’s not forget that (1) this was one of over 600 satellite Marches for Science around the world, many of which also brought out thousands of people; and (2) this total, if accurate, would mean Saturday’s March for Science in the nation’s capital was on par with the largest Tea Party rallies held at the height of the so-called conservative “movement.”
There’s also the context to consider. In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s unexpected election, Americans took to the streets in protest of the Republican and his agenda, and in recent months, the civic engagement has been unlike anything seen in at least a generation: the historic Women’s March, the recent Tax Day March, well attended national events in support of the Affordable Care Act, and now the March for Science.
If the right is waiting for progressive-minded activism to quietly fade away, my advice to conservatives is simple: keep waiting, because it doesn’t appear to be happening.
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
To me, it sounds like we need another round of tax cuts in order to generate adequate funding to further shake boxes, shatter paradigms and creatively destroy obsolete modalities of thinking…
@Eric U.: That’s a cool device, at least in prospect. But the city taxi stuff seems to me to be a bizarre application. With a 190 mile range, it would seem a “real” application would be intercity stuff. As public air travel gets ever more grotesque, a competitive-w. short haul air travel becomes attractive. Hanscom to a small airfield in metro NY? My dream…
Realistically, you’d want a slightly longer range, if just to get a reasonable safety margin, but there are a lot of city pairs that have a ton of travel between them in the 200-400 mile range for which an affordable short-haul on-demand system would be sweet.
@David Anderson: I have one word for you kid: Zeppelins! It will be all the rage.
Gotta say as someone who lived on the flight path from *Grant’s Farm* to the Anheiser Busch brewery, they’ve already solved that problem. They’re called helicopters.
**Grant’s Farm is the ancestral home of the August Busch mafia… i mean brewing family/dynasty. The bastard flew over my house damn near every morning, M-F.
The Moar You Know
@David Anderson: None of them. I wouldn’t get within ten miles of such a place, if the criteria for flying a dangerous and unstable experimental aircraft is “have a driver’s license and a million bucks”.
Flying cars will never be a thing. Because they require pilots, not drivers.
Sheesh, when I was in grade school in the late 70’s, someone came to our class to give to talk about their company developing personal flying cars. Seemed really cool to me at the time but now it just seems like a dumb idea as applied to the general populace, more so as the trend seem to be less daily commuting and less shift to exurban areas.
Train service in the NE corridor is sufficiently frequent to be called “on-demand,” and it is connected to city centers.
Lurker From Beyond the Canadian Border
@Taylor: Why would autonomous cars put them out of business? They’re already losing money hand over first with regular cars, and they can’t even focus on those.
@The Moar You Know: Maybe there will never be personal flying cars but flying taxis or buses flown by pilots? There’s still the issue of accidents happening and loss of life, especially in a city
They keep the radio on up front here all day long. The news snippets come from FOX, on the hour. If you’re just a casual listener they make it sound as if Trump is achieving all these things he says.
Tax reform? I just heard it will be done on Wednesday. I bet there are tens of millions of people who believe he is doing or has done this stuff he boasts about. It’s really remarkable. His bullshit is working. He pretends he has accomplishments and it sounds like he does.
@David Anderson: I never knew flinging pumpkins hundreds of feet and watching them explode could be so fun. Kinda messy too.
With a vtol, takeoff and landing are the big energy wasters, so taxi service would reduce range significantly. A prop works best when it is not moving air, but at zero velocity, that’s all it is doing. In forward flight, the air mostly stays still and the prop pushes against it. And big buildings would cause a recirculation problem, wasting even more energy, or possibly making takeoffs and landings very difficult. Ok, so landing is mandatory. Still need a helipad.
@Kay: The fever dream will break when they lose their jobs or they can’t afford bread for their families. Trumpy will find a way to fuck it up. He’s already pissed a lot of his base off with constantly changing his positions
In moderation again
Good god, half the drivers on the road can barely pilot a car — and they only have two dimensions to deal with.
Self-flying cars, well, maybe, if all the cars can talk to each other. That’d require one hell of a lot of computing power, but I guess fantasizing about it isn’t completely nuts. I’d even get in one after the ten-millionth accident-free flight.
The Moar You Know
@Goku: i.e. airplanes
The Moar You Know
@Goku: 96% still support. He hasn’t pissed off his revolting “base” one bit.
Fun fact: “the base” in Arabic: al-Queda.
Still? Isn’t that the big issue? A large, heavy object falling from the sky in a city is almost guaranteed to kill more than just the passengers.
The Ancient Randonneur
Note according to polls I have seen. His support among those who voted for him is still very high with most being “would vote for again”.
@Dupe70: As a bumper sticker in my past once said, A STRONG AMERICA NEEDS THE DIRIGIBLE.
I’d settle for the jet packs we were promised back in the 60’s. First Tang, then the space food sticks, freeze dried ice cream, and Quisp. The only thing missing is the jet packs.
The Silicon Valley billions in search of investment opportunities with sufficient ROI is maddening, when the problem and solutions are so damn obvious. Multi-modal public transportation systems and it’s construction and maintenance would create a virtuous cycle of economic impact immediately.
Personally, I’m offended by the Google buses that use public transportation stops but prohibit public use because the young boys and occasional woman who work for big tech can’t be exposed to the hoi poloi and so won’t have to consider the public, public needs or social good.
@Weaselone: Give it time. Its only been 100 days. Things are still chugging along mostly thanks to Obama. Just wait until a real crisis happens and Trump can’t bs his way out of it, possibly resulting in many of his voters getting hurt by the fallout. His support is a mile wide and an inch deep and enough will eventually peel away because of his incompetence
@Jinchi: I meant that if I didn’t make it clear
This thing looks cool, though!
Electric VTOL plane/car/drone Lilium
@Lurker From Beyond the Canadian Border: The con is to convince investors that they will own autonomous vehicles.
@Taylor: Grrrr. As a long time resident of Amtrak’s NE corridor what kills me is that all I want is sub 3 hour travel city-center to city center Bos-NY. Currently, the best Acela offers is about 3:40, which in my experience is actually achieved one time out of three. The distance is roughly 200 miles. In Japan that would be a sub-two hour journey on their fastest Shinkansens.
You’re right of course — modern rail is the mode of choice for intercity transport for distances less than five hundred miles. The problem we have in the US is that we have world-class freight transport…and a passanger rail system that in some ways falls behind what we had in the inter-war period.
So yeah. Give me some good trains and I’ll never get on a short hop flight again.
Mike in NC
The Pentagon insisted it absolutely had to field the V-22 Osprey, spending many years and billions of dollars and having dozens of lives lost in the process. Occasionally we hear one flying over our property, and it’s the loudest damned thing in the world.
@David Anderson: Let’s add to this the inability for most humans to think efficiently in two dimensions (failure to anticipate events outside of immediate vision, for example). Now, add that third dimension, and the body count has potential to be tremendous. Especially if the Twitler Family Circus manages to privatize air traffic control.
@The Moar You Know: I don’t know why people see this as a good result for Trump. If as many as 4% of people in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan had not voted for Trump he would not be president right now. Indeed, the margins were not even that high, and since the results aren’t (so far as I can tell) split out by region even that 4% number might understate the potential impact of such a seemingly small shift. After less than 100 days in office. And that does not capture the people who lied ab initio and claimed they did not vote at all or did not vote for Trump when they did. Which gets to the second point, asking people if they “regret” a decision is almost be design going to register a greater level of negative responses (that is, they do not regret their decision), but it only fitfully corresponds with what they will do the next time they are asked to make a comparable decision. I might refuse to say that I regret buying a particular car (because it puts me on the spot and makes me feel bad) but I might also never buy that brand of car again. “It was the right thing to do at the time but I am not doing it again” is emotionally much more appealing than “I was hoodwinked and behaved like a dupe.”
Lurker From Beyond the Canadian Border
@Taylor: Okay, I see what you’re saying. I guess you need to tell the investors something if you’re not going to make money with your alleged core business.
@WafflesTasteGood: Derf sighting. Clean up needed on aisle 51 for whoever wants to reapply the ban hammer Adam smacked it with last week.
The Moar You Know
@WafflesTasteGood: Adam, the fucking Derf troll is back with another trademarked tell.
Flying cars really “will” be a thing, as soon as we have electricity too cheap to meter.
The most likely “real crisis” is that the economy eventually gives out as a one-two punch of the general business cycle and Trump/Republican policies. Trump’s anti-immigrant efforts are already putting a drag on several key fields like education, tourism and medicine. It’s almost guaranteed that Republican budget cuts and tax cuts are going to be passed essentially shifting cash from government expenditures that have high fiscal multipliers to things that have lower multipliers, not too mention all the accompanying job losses in government. That’s probably going to tip us into a recession. Republicans will then attempt to solve the downturn through counterproductive austerity measures and more tax cuts. Once we crash hard, we’ll probably drag all the big export based economies with us (China, Japan, Germany,etc.) which should be enough to topple everyone else (At least we’ll get Russia too as oil will be cheaper than piss).
Call me narrow minded, but I don’t really see global economic meltdown and lower Trump poll numbers as an equal trade, particularly as an economic implosion is likely to drive a Continental Europe barely clinging to sanity into the open arms of fascists.
@Weaselone: I don’t either, believe me. There’s little any of us can do at this point besides protesting and voting. We’ll just have to ride this thing out as best we can to the other side. The Democrats, if we’re willing, will hopefully be able to pick up the pieces and build a better world
@The Moar You Know:
Concur. If not enough humans can be trusted to safely handle vehicles on a 2D surface, why invite them to fly in 3D space? And given that routine tasks like takeoff, landing, navigation, and avoiding collisions haven’t quite been figured out — and they are pretty complex as it is — I just don’t see the 3d version happening any time soon.
Plus, imagine the morning rush hour in your city, consisting entirely of helicopters.
@The poseur fka “shomi”: Hi, blomi! Bye,blomi!
@Felonius Monk: we can just ride around on our unicorns instead
Adam L Silverman
@WafflesTasteGood: Back in the box.
@Villago Delenda Est: Actually, I’d say it was significantly less stern than it could/should have been.
Normally, clandestine data tracking after a phone wipe (including countermeasures to prevent the hack from showing up when the phone’s GPS reports near Apple HQ) would get your app instantly deleted from the AppStore; do not pass Go, do not collect $200. However, because many of Tim Cook’s friends have money tied up in Uber (and would have lost that money if Uber was instantly inaccessible on all iPhones), Uber’s CEO got a personal meeting with Tim Cook, who politely warned them Not To Do That Any More. No harm, no foul!
Dude, did you miss the story about people collecting from a FOODBANK who are still solidly Trump?
When confronted by the fact that Trump is trying to cut funds to that very food bank their response was “It’ll all work out somehow.”
They are beyond help.
Nope. Fascism rises during economic uncertainty and disaster for a reason.
Real solutions aren’t sexy and not instant piles of money.
The people with too much money for their own good demand both.
@Amir Khalid: Within a day I’d be living in the New York City Memorial Helicopter Scrapyard.
Them starving to death is technically “working out somehow,” I suppose.
@Barbara: I think you’re right on the basic psychological underpinnings for most humans here, but this scenario isnt the right application for it.
It’s a binary choice at the next election – there is only one other make of automobile available. And so many people have allowed themselves over the last several decades to become so allergic to ever buying that other brand that they will not switch over under any circumstances. The loyalty is so strong that this time around they could see right up front that they were being marketed a lemon that would probably kill them or someone they knew, and they still bought it. They will not switch brands, ever, because they’ve allowed themselves to be convinced that owning the other make is the worst thing in the world.
Instead, the shittiness of the current model GOPmobile will be the fault of Democrats, political correctness and conservatism being failed, so they’ll get upset at liberals and the Board of Republican, Inc. and demand change at the top, but still buy their cars.
@TenguPhule: I saw It, I just don’t think those people are representative