Deo volente.

Giant Frickin’ Robot Parking Garage

This sounds fun.

In the course of a contract dispute, the city of Hoboken had police escort the Robotic employees from the premises just a few days before the contract between both parties was set to expire. What the city didn’t understand or perhaps concern itself with, is that they sent the company packing with its manuals and the intellectual property rights to the software that made the giant robotic parking structure work.

It’s the Moorlocks vs. the Eloi all over again. Just because software lives virtually doesn’t mean it’s not real. The article says that the city signed a bad contract. Maybe true, but it seems like there were people working for the city who probably did not understand the issues involved.

But good for the software company. They need to defend themselves. I’m sure that a lot of less enlightened publications than Wired are giving them hell. In pre-emptive response, I offer this: people are going to have to understand that intellectual property is as important as the notion of real property. The Open Source crowd can talk about optimization, efficiencies, and the fact that most patents are useless. At the end of the day, though, Open Source may be a superior implementation to go to, but it lacks the market’s ruthless ability to prioritize. Open Source without the Market is Geeks Gone Wild.

And Government’s IP rights to software that it buys or develops is notoriously hazy. Most of the time, they don’t know which end is up when you start talking about development. Government needs to modernize, and in so doing, come to terms with the virtual world that is slowly bringin efficiency to the non-virtual world. So far, though, their response is along the lines of “But we’re the Government … we can do whatever we want.”

The lifts act independently of each other, and move in many directions, instead of just up and down. Every entry/exit station can accommodate 40 cars per hour, and every space is essentially a separate machine acting cooperatively. As the lot is used, it learns when particular cars tend to be picked up and dropped off and shuffles its load to optimize pickup time.

So incredibly cool. Now if someone would do this with my refrigerator so that it would optimize food usage and preparation.


August 8, 2006 - Posted by | Frickin' Robots, Market, Open Source

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