Google co-founder Larry Page-backed flying car startup, Kitty Hawk, has finally launched and will be available by the end of 2017. Back in March, it secured the FAA licenses mandatory to test two new prototypes. Kitty Hawk’s new aircraft’s – N401QZ and N402QZ – are electric and are classified are rotorcraft, meaning they include rotor blades.
Larry Page-backed Kitty Hawk aims at creating all-electric, usable flying cars. The flying car startup is led by CEO and former Google self-driving head Sebastian Thrun, who wants to begin selling the personal aircraft by the end of the year. Two years ago, Thrun recruited Cameron Robertson and Todd Reichert, two aerospace engineers from AeroVelo, a University of Toronto spin-off company that won a competition for a human-powered helicopter and set a land speed record for a bicycle in 2016.
Larry Page's Flying Car
As per a New York Times report, Kitty Hawk ran a test pilot at a lake about 100 miles north of San Francisco. NYT says the Kitty Hawk Flyer looks like something “Luke Skywalker would have built out of spare parts.” The flying car is an open-seated, 220-pound vehicle, powered by eight rotors that squall like a speedboat.
Kitty Hawk says the flying car is “safe, tested and legal to operate in the US", as long as you fly it in "uncongested areas." The first Kitty Hawk Flyer prototype is designed to fly over water, which explains why it resembles a jet-ski. In the video (below) you can see tester Cimeron Morrissey fly it over a lake in California, gliding roughly 10 meters above the water surface.
The flying car startup hasn’t divulged details such as the vehicle’s price tag, but we’re guessing it will be in the six-figure range. However, it is offering an early-bird discount of $2,000 for people who’re willing to shell out $100 now. According to the NYT, the early payment will help you bag both the discount as well as test flights with the Kitty Hawk.
The aircraft is designed for hobbyist and recreational use. But, the flying car startup has a different goal in mind. It aims to make flying cars a practical reality as a means to reduce urban traffic congestion. This doesn’t mean that Kitty Hawk is a pioneer in this field. As a matter of fact, it could face fierce competition from half a dozen flying car bigwigs, including Airbus, headquartered in Blagnac, France. Some less known startups include Terrafugia, Volocopter, and ParaJet.
The Kitty Hawk Flyer is one of the several prototypes the Larry Page-backed company is designing. Thrun, in an interview with the NYT, said the startup has been in contact with the FAA. He agrees that while the concerns over flying vehicles are legitimate, we would need to have to work together in order to understand how new technologies will shape the future of the society.