Huh? DAPRA GC was not a good thing?

Please, if anything it was a misunderstanding, not callous or malicious. I have no animous towards you, and I am actually a very nice guy. I hope you realize I will happily back up any statement you make which I agree with, and will gladly change my position when I am shown to be wrong.
What you said was: "They just _gave_ their work to the inspectors, ignoring their own property rights, in order to have a chance at the prize". I think you can see how I could easily misunderstand this statement. I hope we can move beyond this.
Brent S.
Reply to
Brent S.
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While Wilbur died young, Orville did quite well. See a picture of his house (a large mansion), here:
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This was after he cashed out of the Wright Airplane Company, which became Curtiss-Wright, which is still in business (NYSE ticker symbol: CW).
John Nagle
Reply to
John Nagle
But the Wright Brothers didn't have anything much to do with lighter-than-air aviation, which was created by the Montgolfier brothers in France in the 1700s and used by both sides during the Civil War.
Reply to
J. Clarke
Hmmm. I seem to recall reading that aerial observation balloons were first tried in the Spanish-American war, in Cuba. 1898, I think, which puts its first US military use some 30 years after the Civil War.
Reply to
Mike Young
Some would say that the religious zealot was a consequence of our actions as well.
I don't necessarily agree... but some are saying that.
Reply to
Dean Burell
How many lost American lives were prevented because we used armed Predator drones and the unarmed ones for surveilance.
Damn those RC plane builders!
Of course with out the research into miniturization that the government funds.... we probably wouldn't have ipod nano's and GB memory sticks either....
Damn the government for plagueing us with disposable commercial electronic gizmos that are obsolete the day we buy them!
Reply to
Dean Burell
Nope, the Military wants these weapons for two primary reasons, both largely political. 1. Save American lives because pilots cost money, and Americans rightfully get really upset when the cream of their youth are wasted. 2. Limit the killing of Civillians because of the negative political effects at home and abroad.
Of course every single military officers I have ever met from Lt to General really does hurt deeply when they lose men, and every bomber pilot worries about civillians they kill for the rest of their lives. The pilots also worry about the soldiers they kill, though no one I have met worries about the leaders of the enemy they have killed.
Almost all the Military objectives could have been carried out cheaper with unguided bombs, WMDs. Note the USA used lots of WMDs in the first Iraq war. The fuel air bombs are just as explosive as medium nukes, and larger than many tactical ones. They just aren't as messy and don't cause as much lingering death. I promise you that reasons one and two are the primary reason for most of the new weapons. The exception would be the larger bunker busters, but those again are designed to get extremely high value, fortified targets.
If the USA had done the second Iraq war, with wider ranging targets with WW II type dumb bombs 100,000's to millions more Iraqis would have died and the major cities would have looked like the Japanessee cities did at the end of WW II.
Reply to
Muddy
But why all the high tech engineering.....I thought that all you needed to avoid deer were those little whistles you bolt on to your car... Why have an overcomplicated high tech solution when a low tech solution is sufficient?
Reply to
Dean Burell
The Wright Brothers didn't end up with a big airline company, but they did pretty well for a while. Much better than before the airplane. They were world heros, lived richly, and failed to become leaders of industry due to a serious of bad technical and business decisions.
Reply to
Muddy
The big reseach houses seem to be doing pretty good, but robotics is much harder than it appears when you get serious.
Reply to
Muddy
I worked with DAPRA, and other defense agencies and they almost always handle patent rights as follows. If the Military pays for the research, they own the patents, which were always made freely available to the public. This makes sense, since tax dollars paid for the effort, the people should own the patents. I would think only US companies using US manufacturings should get free use of the patents, but maybe other countries do the same thing.
If a university or company develops something to sell to the military on dime, they own the patent.
The only question comes on projects with multiple sources of funding, and then the company's or university's contract writers are at fault if they don't protect their own patent rights.
No evil conspiracies, just everyone trying to get the best for their share holders, tax payers or whoever owns universities.
Reply to
Muddy
I have it on good authority that your St. Christopher's medal works about as well. The Dashboard Jesus, though, seems different. That works a charm on all manner of ills.
The point is that they don't work, and can't be made to work, the same as it is inherently more dangerous to step into the bathtub for your morning shower than it is to stay sedentary in bed.
Reply to
Mike Young
Which civil war? There's been civil wars all over France since the 1700s. I've never heard of US military involvement in any of them.
Reply to
Jens E. Nyborg
The one I had in mind had US military involvement, circa 1861 through 1865. Just as some around here speak colloquial of it as "the Lake", non-locals are more comfortable with the name Lake Michigan. Likewise other areas have "the Bay", "the Boy's Home".... Around here, "the Civil War" refers to the US Civil War.
Other Civil Wars the US was involved in? Pick any ten in the past fifty years.
Reply to
Mike Young
Don't think the government has much to do with it. The transistor was invented at Bell Labs as part of their ongoing basic research. The idea of putting several of them on the same piece of silicon was first tried out at Texas Instruments, I forget to what purpose. The first microprocessor was developed for a calculator manufacturer. Since then the major developments have all been due to commercial competition. The government did try to get a hand in it at one point with Sematech but my understanding is that the impact of that has been minimal.
Reply to
J. Clarke
It was a piece of friendly advice for the reasons I stated. However, if he wants to associate Newmicros with wild political and criminal allegations, then he's certainly free to do so.
Chris
Reply to
Chris Spencer
This is an interesting, if slightly dated, article on the subject:
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Reply to
chrisspen
Yes, I meant heavier than air, I thought heavier than air, I wanted to make the distinction to allow from not-heavier than air which had prior history and existence, and I slipped and _wrote_ lighter than air. I see I made a number of other typos in that post.
I was pretty impassioned at that point. I knew the Wrights had been treated badly. I had just found out how badly. I just didn't know how very applicable their plight was, their loss of legal rights, to what I was saying was the likely results of DARPA GC, until I read that paragraph about the government setting aside their patent rights.
Perhaps the difference between me and others here, is in my 3+ years as an officer in the navy, in my year and a half at Comptek Research as an engineer, in my 3+ years at Rockwell International as a scientist (with much less exposure to the military), in my 5 year ordeal with my own company, selling tank fire simulators to the Army (which bankrupt the prime, and took me years to finally get paid for what the Army went ahead and used immediately anyway).
BTW, I think one of those big companies eventually got the contract to maintain the boxes I built. I went down and gave a presentation to about a dozen engineers who tried to pick apart my design, unsuccessfully I might add. I'm sure they were paid more to maintain that equipment, than I was to design and build it. And remember, I still wasn't even fully paid for several more years.
In my many discussions with my 75 yo co-worker, Bill Stewart, who worked for E-systems among others, I don't recall every hearing a story about a contract with the military that went smoothly, with no law suites, and no chicanery, with no privileged information getting passed around where it shouldn't have been, with no competitors ripping off ideas. Not one example. None. Maybe the stories where things went right just aren't worth telling. But his experiences parallel my experiences.
Let me tell you about just one of Bill's stories. Did you know we had the equivalent of the Preditor and Global Hawk in the early '60s? The company Bill worked for, on their own dollar, came up with an RC plane made on a Switzer glider (iirc). They demonstrated it for the military. It was a working system. Tremendous range and duration. Since they were the only ones that had it, the military said they couldn't buy it from them as a single source. They forced them to turn over plans to their competitors so they could have a competition to see who could build the best one. (Remember, the military didn't fund this project, it was a private development.) After the competition, they awarded the contract to the competitor, and the competitor muffed it. Millions later it was cancelled. Tthe Army pilots didn't like to shown up by a pilotless vehicle, so they fought it. The company who made it, never got a dime.
So I have some, but still limited, exposure to such matters compared to most government contractors, and this is only my experience.
I passed it along before, and now after, our little robot community answered the call to avarice and fame. I want us to have our eyes wide open.
I haven't said much about it before, but half a dozen of our products (of those we know about) went into the race in multiple teams. We know because some took weeks of support with us chasing phantom problems, some of which seemed native to the platform they were installed in, an environment beyond what the design was envisioned for. Yet we overcame them. While this improved our products, and we appreciate that, the support also had a real dollar cost us, far exceeding our total sales dollars, let alone anything like profits.
Many of these competitiors asked us to donate our products, to sponsor their teams. I felt I had to remain impartial since several teams were using our products, and of course I felt I would not give away things to a cause I saw as bogus from the outset.
I was offered half the prize to be come the lead programmer on one of the teams for the second race by one of the vehicles that showed great promise in the first race. I seriously considered it. But eventually I turned it down on principle.
So to this extend, I am not a disinterested party. I have (minorly) less money in my pocket today, because DARPA came up with a get rich scheme. Not only am I actually (marginally) poorer, the contest also distracted my customers from their intended useful tasks, and left them all jubilant at the great competition, but flat broke. Without cash flow from their efforts, they weren't customers any more were they?
Think about opportunity loss. It's like we lost several years of our intellectual "children" sacrificed on the alter of non-profit. If all these racers were designing new products, and if they'd bought a few boards from me (or any other supplier in our industry for that matter) wouldn't some of them be coming back for some small volume sales by now? Yes, usually, volume sales follow prototype sales. Do I expect a flood of sales now for the new fleet of DARPA inspired autonomous vehicles about to come streaming out of American factories? No. There's been talk, but I'm not holding my breath.
Likewise, I think our entire industry felt the effects. If you see robot suppliers cutting back, or folding, think what DARPA might have had to do with it. Will Servo Magazine survive? Well... I won't speak for them, but where are the nifty articles from DARPA research? Where are the inspiring projects from DARPA research? Or were all our guys out building dessert dust buggies instead of writing? And just how is cash flow at T&L Publications? Sorry to say, I haven't done them justice, although I don't owe them anything right now. But I stopped advertizing a year ago, and just now placed a couple test ads. Gather many others are in same boat.
So how do we recoup our investments? No one in our industry made a profit here (maybe Sick lasers). Even the guys who won $2 million, lost $8 million doing so. No profit there. How as an industry do we rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Darpa??? I, for one, have no desire to be turning into a full time government supplier again. Experience is what you get, when you don't get what you want. I'm experienced. Is that what you competitors see for your future?
If history repeats, anyone who wants (meaning the existing contractors who already took a billion dollars to produce almost nothing) can copy all that was done out of the required white papers (and again sell that for more billions of dollars, because the cost isn't about what is made, but what it costs to get the business).
If that violates a patent, since this is a time of war, that little detail can just be set aside, just as history teaches us. They have the connections to get the lucrative government contracts, and the vast staff to handle all the make-work paperwork the government saddles them with, and know how to grease the buyers with the right kind of.. what... answers? assurances? golf outings? (maybe "kickbacks"? or however it works, I was never sure, but it didn't seem to be low bid).
Nope, I made a decision a long time ago to stay away from supplying the military as my primary business, for the sake of keeping my soul and sanity, in for none other. I also shun get rich quick schemes, whether it is a letter from Nigeria, any sort of Ponzi scheme, or an invite to a contest by DARPA. I look on both with the same kind of suspicion. None deserve my time and life's blood. I'm saddened to see it was taken out of our industry and by the way it was done.No, overall, I don't think DARPA GC was a good thing.
Reply to
Randy M. Dumse
There you go Chris. Good detective work.
"On a very serious note, the teams are also concerned that DARPA granted itself a peek at their intellectual property via the technical paper without offering a fair shot at competing in the race. DARPA has first access rights to all of the technology."
Now go and see if you can find where leaked DARPA GPS coordinates data was leaked on a website to some of the teams months before the contest, and they have chartered special mappings of the course terrain, while the others only got it once they were at the contest.
Does that sound like equal protection under the law? or does a long train of abuses, pursing invariably the same object, evince a design?
Reply to
Randy M. Dumse

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