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A Flying Car by the end of this year? Kitty Hawk gets much attention

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【Summary】Mountain View startup Kitty Hawk is recently getting much attention, as its aerospace engineer piloted a flying car above a peaceful lake about 100 miles north of San Francisco.

Original Claire    May 04, 2017 9:53 AM PT
A Flying Car by the end of this year? Kitty Hawk gets much attention

We've seen many flying car concepts recently, either in design drawings or real prototypes. They all have various shapes and styles, and different ways of taking off. A Mountain View, California startup called Kitty Hawk has been getting much attention recently, as its aerospace engineer piloted a flying car above a peaceful lake about 100 miles north of San Francisco. When the video went online, it went viral.

   

The open seated, 220 pound flying machine looks like a giant spider wearing shoes. It can only fit one person, and has eight, battery powered propellers. 15 feet above the water, the machine makes a loud noise like a speedboat. After five minutes of flight, it gently landed on floating pads near the dock.

Kitty Hawk is funded by Larry Page, the founder of Google. Meanwhile, the company's chief executive Sebastian Thrun, is an self-driving car pioneer and founding director of Google's X lab, where he worked on Google's self-driving car project.

Page usually remains quite secretive about any of his investments in flying car projects, yet he once said in a statement, "We've all had dreams of flying effortlessly. I'm excited that one day very soon I'll be able to climb onto my Kitty Hawk Flyer for a quick and easy personal flight."

The startup is trying to act fast, and plans to start selling its vehicle by the end of this year.

The Kitty Hawk Flyer is one of the many prototypes that the company is designing. The company hopes to attract flying car enthusiasts that will pay a $100 deposit, which will get them a $2000 discount on the retail price of a Flyer and "exclusive access to the Flyer experiences and demonstrations." According to the company, "A select few will get the chance to pilot the Flyer." That sounds like an unusual opportunity as the retail price of Kitty Hawk's flying car is yet to be decided.

However, people often question whether flying cars such as the Flyer can get approvals from the government to operate in the air. In regard to this, chief executive Mr. Thrun said in an interview that they have been in contact with the FAA, and sees the government regulators as friends. "I believe that all of us have to work together to understand how new technologies will shape the future of society." he said.

As more flying cars are being designed, the government definitely needs a new, improved air traffic control system to adjust to the change. Just like we are seeing with self-driving vehicles, the approvals could take long a time.


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