The Google X founder and robotics expert on flying taxis, the possible healthcare uses for AI – and why we haven’t seen the last of Google Glass
Sebastian Thrun isn’t your ordinary Silicon Valley computer geek-cum-Stanford professor. The 51-year-old artificial intelligence and robotics scientist is responsible for co-developing Google Street View, pioneering self-driving cars, founding Google X – the internet giant’s secretive research lab – and revolutionising education by kickstarting massive open online courses (Moocs). His most recent project is developing flying cars.
You launched your flying car company, Kitty Hawk, in 2015 backed by Google co-founder Larry Page and you have two projects in development – a personal aircraft called Flyer and an autonomous air taxi called Cora. Why do we need flying cars?
The ground is getting more and more congested – we are all stuck in traffic all the time. Bringing transportation into the air will make things faster, safer and more economically and environmentally friendly. Just imagine travelling at 80 miles an hour in a straight line at any time of day without ever having to stop. If you’re in Jersey City in the morning and wish to go to Times Square, Manhattan, that might take you more than an hour in traffic. With an electric flying vehicle you could do it in less than two minutes on perhaps 10 cents of energy costs. It would be transformational to almost every person I know.