An ex-Googler says flying cars are ‘completely crazy’ — and 3 years away from becoming the next hot thing – Business Insider
Flying cars are poised to replace self-driving cars as
the hot thing in the next three years, according to
Sebastian Thrun, the former Google employee who founded the
personal-flight company Kitty Hawk.
During his appearance at the
TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Tuesday,
Thrun, who is sometimes referred to as the
godfather of the self-driving car, explained why he thought
personal air travel would become an everyday occurrence in the
“The air is so free of stuff and unused compared to the ground,”
said Thrun, whose bold vision for the future was matched by his
decidedly curious sartorial style.
Thrun envisions a world in which he can fly the 34-mile journey
from Palo Alto, California, to San Francisco in 10 minutes and
return home at the end of the day to a bag of drone-delivered
groceries at his door.
‘It’s completely crazy’
Technologies like artificial intelligence and deep learning, as
well as innovations in delivery drones, have enormous potential,
Thrun said, though he acknowledged that most people viewed flying
cars as the stuff of science fiction.
“The latest thing is going to be flying cars, it’s completely
crazy, and no one person in the world believes in it,” Thrun
said. No one, perhaps, except Thrun and Larry Page, who is a
backer of Kitty Hawk.
A prototype of the flying vehicle Thrun was referring to was
first showcased in a video on the
company’s website in April. The vehicle in the
video looks more like a water toy than a flying car, but
Cimeron Morrissey, who got the chance to ride the device,
wrote in a review that the final version would look much
different from the prototype.
Kitty Hawk will have its first product ready by February, more
flying motorcycle than car, Thrun said.
“Self-driving cars is very hot right now, but a few years ago
nobody cared about them,” he said. “Three years from now flying
cars will be very hot, and they might just disrupt the
He also believes that there isn’t a technical reason flying cars
can’t be done soon and that the real roadblocks are legal and
regulatory. Government transportation agencies have only recently
begun to grapple with self-driving-car regulations, and
regulating air space would most likely present even more of a
Though his company’s vision is to make traveling in the skies the
norm, Thrun is still a firm believer in developing self-driving
cars — he just thinks we need to keep innovating past them.
Thrun led Google’s self-driving-car efforts several years ago,
but he broke off from the company to pursue his passion for
education with his startup Udacity and to focus on other projects
like Kitty Hawk.