The chance to trigger the next great transportation revolution has drawn in big companies, like Airbus and Uber, big names, like Google's Larry Page, and naturally, a horde of startups. They all believe the proliferation of vertical takeoff and landing (or VTOL) aircraft, which combine the best features of helicopters and planes, can make traveling throughout and between cities not just faster, but maybe cheaper and greener.
AI expert Sebastian Thrun thinks the idea will only climb higher, especially once these aircraft can fly themselves, and he wants to help make it happen.
"I see a future where everybody flies at least once a day," he says. Getting there, however, will require a ton of work: building the aircraft, making them reliable, teaching them to land safely and avoid each other in congested airspace—and doing it all without human pilots in charge. That means finding people who can develop complicated software that accounts for the vagaries of aeronautics.