Neil deGrasse Tyson said Elon Musk “cured” him of his desire to see flying cars.
The CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX appeared Sunday on the astrophysicist’s “Star Talk” radio program, where he admitted he’d thought a lot about flying cars but determined they were completely impractical.
“If there are flying cars, then well obviously you have added this additional dimension where a car could potentially fall on your head and would be susceptible to weather,” Musk said.
He also said autopilot would be essential for flying cars, but he said the safety risks were simply too great to overcome.
“Even in autopilot, and even if you’ve got redundant motors and blades, you’ve still gone from near-zero chance of something falling on your head to something greater than that,” Musk said.
He also said engines powerful enough to keep cars in the air would be extremely noisy.
“We have flying cars today,” Tyson said. “They’re called helicopters, and they’re really noisy. If you want something as heavy as a car to levitate, it’s going to be making some noise.”
The problem with flying cars was a dimensional one, Musk said.
“Essentially with a flying car you’re talking about going 3-D,” he said. “There’s a fundamental flaw with cities where you’ve got dense office buildings and apartment buildings and duplexes, and operating on three dimensions, but then you go to the street, and suddenly you’re two-dimensional.”
Musk said cities should look underground to solve congestion the way subways can help alleviate traffic above-ground.
“If you were to extrapolate that to cars and have more car tunnels, then you would alleviate congestion completely,” he said. “You would not need a flying car in that case, and it would always work even if the weather was bad. It would never ice up and it would never fall on your head.”
Tyson’s co-host, however, joked that he wasn’t swayed by Musk’s arguments against flying cars.
“Those sound like the words of a man who owns a car company,” said co-host Chuck Nice.