They Promised Us Flying Cars, Instead We Got 140 Characters
Sebastian Thrun, a computer scientist who famously helped win the DARPA-funded autonomous driving challenge in 2005, recently announced that the online-learning platform Udacity, which he co-founded, was going to begin a 12 month course on flying cars. The Flying Car Nanodegree program will teach inductees the software skills and conceptual understanding necessary to build an autonomous flight system.
This is in and of its self not a huge deal. The course is more related to the preexisting phenomenon of commercial-grade multirotor and fixed wing drones than flying taxis. That being said, there have been a flurry of technology demonstrators over the past decade, and with them an increasing number of thought leaders who believe advances in unmanned aviation and autonomous driving will open up a new frontier of transportation that futurists have been pining for since the early twentieth century.
The fascination with flying automobiles is long and well documented in science fiction. Many have questioned whether the first relevant US…
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