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Kitty Hawk and Boeing Form Partnership to Make Flying Cars Safer

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【Summary】As the world’s largest aerospace company, Boeing will help the startup scale and solidify its air-based transportation service. The global plane manufacturer may also use this opportunity to assess future expansion into the emerging sector.

Michael Cheng    Jun 29, 2019 8:00 AM PT
Kitty Hawk and Boeing Form Partnership to Make Flying Cars Safer

Safety is of the utmost importance, when it comes to building flying cars. In order to bring the aircrafts to commercial markets and convince individuals to use them, companies in the nascent industry must prove the units can navigate open skies without crashing.

Kitty Hawk, a pioneer in the futuristic race to launch flying cars, understands such concerns and is implementing proactive ways to ensure safety during flight. Backed by Google's Larry Page, the startup announced a partnership with aerospace giant and Boeing. Fortunately, for Kitty Hawk, the business has decades of experience designing, testing and applying safety features to aircrafts. 

Strategic Partnership

The grainy details of the deal have not been revealed. As the world's largest aerospace company, Boeing will help the startup scale and solidify its air-based transportation service. The global plane manufacturer may also use this opportunity to assess future expansion into the emerging sector. At the moment, the technology associated with flying cars is under heavy development. The presence of Boeing could encourage outside investors, as well as large businesses (for partnerships), to support such foundational programs.

"Working with a company like Kitty Hawk brings us closer to our goal of safely advancing the future of mobility," said Steve Nordlund, Vice President and General Manager of Boeing Next.

"We have a shared vision of how people, goods and ideas will be transported in the future, as well as the safety and regulatory ecosystem that will underpin that transportation."

Kitty Hawk has been preparing to launch its flying cars through extensive trials. This phase in development is a great time for Boeing to collaborate with the startup, as it has already carried out several (successful) flight tests. To date, Kitty Hawk has completed more than 700 flights. Most of the trails are being conducted in New Zealand, where it is closely working with local airline company Air New Zealand.

Cora Flying Car and Safety

The efforts of the collaboration with Boeing will focus on the Cora flying car. Equipped with 12 independent lift fans, the unit is capable of seating two individuals per flight. The all-electric engine allows the aircraft to reach distances up to 62 miles, with a maximum traveling speed of 110 mph. During operation, the unit soars between 500 to 3,000 feet.

If the startup hits its goals in a timely manner, Cora should be available on a commercial level by 2021. Kitty Hawk has plans to equip the VTOL aircraft with autonomous piloting software – though the timeline for such features is currently unclear.

"Kitty Hawk was started to advance technology in flight and bring new innovations to life," explained Sebastian Thrun, Co-founder and CEO of Kitty Hawk.

"I am excited about our companies working together to accelerate making safe electric flight a reality."

As for the safety features of the aircraft, it utilizes computerized flight software with redundant capabilities. Should any of the three components that make up the system malfunction, the unit can still fly. For emergencies, it is equipped with a deployable parachute.

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