Tech’s Most Controversial Startup Makes Drone-Killing Robots
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Tech’s Most Controversial Startup Makes Drone-Killing Robots

October 13, 2019


This is the Interceptor. It’s the creation of Palmer Luckey, who might be the world’s
most unlikely weapons mogul. He’s the founder of a multibillion dollar, virtual reality company. He’s also a polarizing
figure in Silicon Valley. My name is Palmer Luckey, and
I’m the founder of Anduril. I wanna build a big company. I wanna build a company that’s
worth billions of dollars. I wanna become one of the
major defense contractors, that’s building technology for
the United States government. And I’m proud to say that,
I’m happy to say that, and I hope we get there. At his previous company, the virtual reality
headset maker, Oculus Rift, Luckey had the idea to build
a futuristic consumer device, combining low cost components
with sophisticated software. He sold Oculus to Facebook
for about $2 billion in 2014. Two years later, just a month before the
2016 presidential election, The Daily Beast reported
he’d given $10,000 to a group of Trump supporters, to fund billboards
featuring insulting messages about Hillary Clinton. In 2017, Facebook announced that Luckey was no longer an employee. I was fired. We can all be honest about it. It became the rare HR decision to make it into a congressional hearing. CEO, have you ever made hiring or firing decisions based
on political positions, or what candidates they supported? No Why was Palmer Luckey fired? That is a specific personnel matter that seems like it would
be inappropriate to speak– You just made a specific representation that you didn’t make decisions
based on political views. Is that accurate?
Well, I can commit that it was not because
of a political view. Anduril has followed
Luckey’s Oculus playbook, using off-the-shelf components, in an industry much more
suited to his politics. Over the course of a few
months, earlier this year, the company built a cheap
version of its drone, made a smartphone video, and started showing it to
people at the Pentagon. It’s a little crazy, but I think that is definitely
the way that it’s going. I mean, all these other
systems, like, where they, there are people who
propose shooting drones out of the sky with a
laser, or with a missile, or you know, that’s not
really a good way to take out, let’s say, a hundred drones that are attacking you from
all different directions. The only thing that can take
out a swarm of fast drones, is a bigger swarm of faster drones, and that’s exactly what we’re building. Here’s some Interceptors. This one has a experimental
parachute release mechanism. So that the idea is, after
it runs into something, if it really destroys it drive train, rather than falling to the ground, it can pop a parachute and
fall to the ground safely. Pops this thing, pops open,
and there’s the parachute. I think that’s one of the reasons that our customers like us so much. I mean, they’re used to going
to people who have like, here’s this white paper. Here’s this idea that we have. We want you to pay us by the hour, so that we can research it, and figure out if it makes sense. And if it does, you’ll pay
us by the hour to make it. And then, if it doesn’t, you’ll
pay us until it does work. And we’re going to them and saying “We do this ourselves,
we used our own money, “we got it done in a matter
of weeks, and here it is.” Anduril has shipped several hundred Interceptors
to military bases. It also has contracts with the US Customs and
Border Protection agency, to provide surveillance equipment to use at the border with Mexico. Workers at other tech companies, such as Google, Microsoft,
Amazon, and Palantir, have all objected to doing similar work, leading to protests by the
employees and activists. Luckey insists that Anduril’s
work isn’t partisan. There’s a lot of people who, I think, falsely conflate border security with immigration policy. And, I don’t care what you
believe on immigration policy, even if you want to have
totally open immigration. Anyone can come into the United States and instantly become a citizen. You should still want to
have strong border security. The company’s surveillance technology consists of large towers,
packed with sensors, and small surveillance drones
that can be set up along the border, or at military
bases, to guard the perimeter. So, this is one of our sentry towers, it is a totally autonomous,
solar powered infrastructure, independent security tower. So, by placing these
towers every few miles, you can end up with a
nearly perfect picture of everything that’s going
on in a really large area. And then that is very easy
for an operator to read. These are being used right now by the DOD, by the Department of Homeland Security, along military bases, the border, and a lot of other
critical infrastructure. Anduril’s future success relies largely on the military’s continued concern that the US could lose
to China in an arms race based on artificial intelligence. Our technology is far behind the consumer area in many places. And we’re also far behind our adversaries in a lot of places. People should be more
worried than they are, about falling behind, ’cause it’s not something
that’s gonna happen someday. It’s already happened. Critics say, technologists, like Luckey, have an ethical duty to stay
out of the weapons business. But neither the military,
nor Anduril’s investors share their concerns. The company recently raised a
$120 million investment round, valuing it at about $1 billion.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Okay the sentry towers I think is a good idea, the drones I think is a stupid idea and his constant use of a hoverboard is incredibly stupid.

  2. Lucky, the rest of SV wants you out. We don't need anymore techies, let alone more that get in bed with the gov.

  3. Dude I always thought real life rich supervillains would be like Lex Luthor, not some nerd who names his company after a sword from LOTR.

  4. I don't like the thing your making; you remind me of a drug addict except your drug is money (neoliberal.)

  5. Why the hell does this guy looks like he is going to be a evil genius,mad scientist or criminal mastermind that wants to conquer the world some point like the way he talks and his hairstyle makes me think of that

  6. I wanna make some kind of electro magnetic pulse device or electro magnetic disabling system Or some type of wireless system that will overload do you circuits of the drones

  7. That guy looks like an evil scientist from comics or movies. It seems he is resentful and wants some kind of revenge through his inventions.

  8. How's that gonna work. If every country in the world as a tech and engineering private sector that develops technology to be used in national defence, including some truly sinister countries, and American hipsters refuse to allow that for the USA?
    These leftist scum have nothing but the destruction of America and Western democracies as their goal.

  9. He said that lasers wont work go destroy a lot of drone… But MORE drones will. This is the stupidest statement. Lasers are easily faster and more precise than more drones, not to mention reliable and dont fly around.

  10. This guy looks like he's gonna fuck up real bad, and then he'll be played by Jonah Hill when they make a movie about it

  11. I’m glad he supports President Trump!
    The majority of educated and informed Asian Americans support President Trump.

  12. If the USA is not willing to fork over a blank check. The Russians and the Chinese are paying handsomely, so are the Iranians!

  13. While countries like India boast of having diverse, brilliant and potential minds, the most diverse, practical and intelligent brains can be found in large numbers only in developed continents or countries like the Europe, US or Japan!! No wonder, an unstable country like India remains and will remain for ages as a mere developing country which serves as the biggest market and customer for developed country and it's brands!!

    India can be the biggest consumer for this guy as they are painstakingly trying to shoot down numerous drones sent by Pakistan to supply weapons and money for terrorists in India. This guy can be a Billionaire within just a few years of time by supplying these to India.

  14. He really does not grasp what we want when we say we want completely open borders if he follows it up with the concept of border "security".

  15. this is great. a king must not look for war but should be prepare for it at all times. hope for the best but expect for the worst.

  16. Kinda don't like this type of paranoid, but it seems like this guy will change the game and do something that is totally mindblowing.

  17. I don’t think he’s being partisan at all, he’s being intelligent. Republicans spend far more money on defense, and it isn’t even close!

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