We’ll have self-flying cars before self-driving cars, Thrun says

Once you get up high enough, you don’t have to worry about a lot of the obstacles like pedestrians and traffic jams that plague autonomous cars. That’s why Sebastian Thrun, Google’s self-driving team founder turned CEO of flying vehicle startup Kitty Hawk, said on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF today that we should expect true autonomy to succeed in the air before the road.

“I believe we’re going to be done with self-flying vehicles before we’re done with self-driving cars” Thrun told TechCrunch reporter Kirsten Korosec.

Why? “If you go a bit higher in the air then all the difficulties with not hitting stuff like children and bicycles and cars and so on just vanishes . . . Go above the buildings, go above the trees, like go where the helicopters are!” Thrun explained, but noted personal helicopters are so noisy they’re being banned in some places like Napa, California.

That proclamation has wide reaching implications for how cities are planned and real estate is bought. We may need more vertical takeoff helipads sooner than we needed autonomous car-only road lanes. More remote homes in the forest that have only a single winding road that reaches them

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