Flyer: Kitty Hawk Unveils Flying Car for Recreational Use

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【Summary】In the US, the Flyer is classified as an ultra-light aircraft. Because of this, a piloting license is not required during operation.

Michael Cheng    Jun 14, 2018 5:25 PM PT
Flyer: Kitty Hawk Unveils Flying Car for Recreational Use

Larry Page's Kitty Hawk is considered to be one of the most promising flying car projects around. Founded in 2015, the company recently released a production-ready version of the Flyer – a flying car designed for personal flights.

A YouTube video uploaded by the startup showcased the unit hovering above a lake. In the US, the Flyer is classified as an ultra-light aircraft. Because of this, a piloting license is not required during operation. This significantly lowers the barriers and risks associated with owning the flying car.

Read on to learn more about the Flyer and Kitty Hawk's presence in the nascent drone sector.

Unveiling the Flyer

Capable of reaching a top speed of 20 mph and a maximum cruising height of 10 feet, the Flyer is equipped with a joystick and a toggle switch inside the cockpit. Flight time maxes out at 20 minutes per full charge.

From the position of its propellers, all the way down to its oval-shaped exterior, the unit appears to be an oversized quadcopter with a large seat in the middle. Such features cater to recreational flights and activities, as individuals will likely have a difficult time commuting to work in the Flyer.

This isn't in issue, as Kitty Hawk is currently in the process of testing an autonomous flying taxi for mainstream transportation. Called Cora, the company is carefully developing the unit for commercial flight.

"The reality is if you look at transportation as a whole, most of it stays on the ground. And the ground is very capacity limited…when you go in the air, the air is mostly free," cited Kitty Hawk CEO Sebastian Thrun, during an interview with CNBC.

Seed Round and the LAANC Program

The company's drone-like aircrafts are attracting a lot of attention from businesses in the aviation industry, including Boeing. Through its venture capital arm (HorizonX), the commercial plane manufacturer announced earlier this month it would invest in Kitty Hawk.

Led by Bonfire Ventures, the startup was able to raise $5 million during the seed round. Other participants include Freestyle Capital and Kluz Ventures.

Boeing is particularly interested in the flying-car maker's navigational software, which, according to the company, is potentially beneficial to the development of management platforms designed to oversee autonomous aircrafts and piloted planes.   

At the moment, Kitty Hawk is collaborating with Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen on a project under the FAA's Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program. The project explores a wide range of emerging technologies applicable to aviation, such as BVLOS flights, autonomous drones and more. The FAA is expecting over 300 air traffic organizations based in the US to contribute to the LAANC program.

"Boeing's partnership with Kitty Hawk on the FAA Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program heralds the continued maturation of the commercial drone industry," said Brian Schettler, Managing Director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures.

"We are excited to continue to explore new capabilities made possible through foresight, expertise and a focus on holistic solutions that support the safe integration of unmanned systems into the national airspace."

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