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Comment Re:Nope... (Score 1) 357

It might also be useful for some small-office business customers. If you work from home but spend a fair amount of time out in the field, you could give Amazon access to your garage, for example. I reckon there may well be enough of these niche applications to lure that 5% of Prime members. If you get more than a couple of Amazon deliveries a week, you might even build a delivery "shed" for the purpose. But frankly I think most people already have some sort of solution in place for deliveries. It'll be interesting to see how much of a market there is for this service.

Comment In some ways... (Score 4, Insightful) 67

Another important milestone was the recent name-check on Elon Musk in Star Trek: Discovery. In ep.4, the captain says (paraphrasing): "The Wright brothers, Elon Musk, Zephram Cochran... do you want to be remembered in that group or be forgotten as just another obscure scientist?"

My point is that even pop culture is beginning to realize that we're entering a new paradigm for space flight, and that Musk is the most visible proponent of it. Of course, it remains to be seen how much of Elon's vision will be realized. But if, in 10 or 15 years it's possible to buy a ticket to an orbit for less than $100k, it will certainly be enabled by the "entrepreneurial" space industry, and not by any government effort. And, for better or worse, Elon is the poster-boy for that industry.

Comment Re:The problem I see (Score 1) 218

I think we're talking about two different but related things: the "it" I'm referring to is YouTube demonetizing videos, whereas you seem to be talking about groups of people deliberately flagging videos as offensive.(?) My only point is that the demonetizing happens to everybody, not just the left or the right.

Comment Re:19? One additional launch, and they'd be Space (Score 5, Interesting) 50

IIRC SpaceX is in fact planning 30 launches next year. I can't find a clear citation at the moment, but I think Gwynne Shotwell said as much in a recent speech somewhere.

And among those 30-odd missions there will be some significant milestones: 1. First Falcon Heavy flight; 2. First Dragon-2 flight; 3. First crewed flight; and (possibly) a tourist fly-by around the moon. They will probably also refly some "flight-proven" boosters for the third or fourth time next year, as well as demonstrating fast turnaround (say, within 48hrs) of a reflown booster.

It'll be a lot of fun to watch all that happening.

Comment Re:The problem I see (Score 2) 218

It's done on both sides of the political spectrum, as well as a lot of content that isn't political at all. The only difference I've noticed is that a slightly higher proportion of right-wing YouTubers seem to think it's only happening to them, and blame it on "left wing media bias," whereas the lefties call it "corporate media bias."

Comment Re:My guess is... (Score 2) 97

True. Indeed, I'd say a lot of car owners here in Taipei already see it largely as a status symbol, but I didn't get into that because my post was already getting long. However, I think there's a generational change underway.

Thirty years ago, Taiwan was still riding the "Asian Tiger" economic high, and getting a car was a huge marker for success. But a lot has happened since then, such as the internet... but more importantly Taipei made some important investments in public transit and city planning. They now have one of the best subway systems in the world (also one of the most expensive), and with dedicated lanes and GPS tracking, the bus system has become even more convenient and reliable. For people who came of age in the last 10 or 15 years, I think the idea of car ownership has moved down a few rungs on the ladder of priorities.

I could be wrong of course, but even in the West, with the advent of self-driving cars and ride-sharing apps, the rate of car ownership is already starting to decline.

Comment Re:My guess is... (Score 5, Interesting) 97

Hardly anyone will notice, since they only have 12~14 cars per 100 people in Singapore (different sources give slightly different numbers) and they have a world-class public transit system which makes car ownership more of a hassle than it's worth.

Here in Taipei it's similar, but less so... Overall car ownership in Taiwan is about twice that of Singapore, but that includes a ton of rural area, which Singapore lacks. In a big city with excellent public transit, there's really no need for a car. Hell, I even gave away my scooter a few years ago.

I'd say the bulk of the traffic in Taipei is: a) local "fleet" vehicles like taxis, buses, delivery vans; b) commuters to and from the surrounding 'burbs; c) scooters, motorcycles, bicycles, etc.. Commuters in the 'burbs tend to have a designated parking space at their apartment block, and another designated space at their employer in the city. Commuters who live in the city are far less likely to have a designated parking spot at home*, so they may spend half an hour looking for one when they get home from work. Major PITA.

OTOH, with public transit you can get all the way across town in under 45 minutes for $1~2 USD, or you can cut that time in half (depending on traffic) by taking a taxi for about $8~12 USD.

I do enjoy driving -- growing up in Iowa, I drove all the time, from age 14 -- but living in a city like Taipei, I'm quite happy NOT owning a car, or any motor vehicle, for that matter.

* Due to land availability, a higher percentage of residential housing in Taipei is "old construction" from the days when common folk didn't own cars. Newer construction (say, the last 30 years) tends to always include parking, but there's been more new construction in the open lands outside the city, and since the rent tends to be cheaper, a lot of people live there.

Comment Re:Translation (Score 1) 382

I would bet that they can design a LIDAR to function at a wavelength that delivers some kind of "fog-vision". Even if it's not as good as human vision, it would still be useful. And when you couple that with on-board cameras, and all the other sensors, you'd ultimately get a better situational awareness than most humans could achieve. Fog wreaks havoc with cameras too, that doesn't mean you shouldn't use them.

Comment Re:Translation (Score 1) 382

Apparently I chose the wrong example from a quick google search. But there has been a lot of talk in the press about how the new LiDAR chips will revolutionize self-driving cars. It's definitely on the way, it's just not here yet.

As for fog, humans can't see through it either. I think the point is to have a broad spectrum of inputs -- LiDAR, radar, ultrasound, cameras -- to get the best possible "picture" in the given weather conditions.

Comment Re:Translation (Score 1) 382

While I agree with your assessment, I'm still curious why Elon is so insistent on only using cameras and radar (and ultrasound?)... I mean, lidar is getting pretty compact and inexpensive these days. It would almost certainly make the resulting self-driving capability even better and more reliable. Why not use it?

Comment Re:Good Luck (Score 5, Interesting) 226

Unless the Trump administration is seeking increased NASA funding for this fiscal year, you can just ignore anything they say about space.

Normally I'd agree, but in this case I'm cautiously optimistic, if only because VP Pence seems to be a genuine NASA fanboi... he was nine years old for Apollo 11, and asked for a seat on the space sub-committee when he was elected to Congress. Pence was apparently the driving force behind Trump's decision to reconstitute the National Space Council which met yesterday for the first time.

Given the amount of disruptive innovation in the space industry lately (led by but not limited to SpaceX), now is a particularly opportune time to "innovate" on the policy side as well. Will the new NSC ever amount to anything more than a few high-profile meetings? Hard to say... As you rightly point out: No bucks, no Buck Rogers. But when a handful of billionaires like Musk, Bezos, and Bigelow are investing their own cash to bring new capabilities to the market, you really couldn't ask for a better time for government to get on the bandwagon too.

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