About a year ago, Kitty Hawk, a Silicon Valley “flying car” start-up backed by Google founder Larry Page was announced. They released a video showcasing their “Flyer” model, a personal flying machine. A year later, this aircraft is a reality, but not yet for sale. The company set up a waiting list because they are still working on pricing the aircraft and securing other funding. The companies location is in Mountain View, California which puts them in the center of VC and tech which should help expedite the funding process.
The Flyer takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter thanks to the 10 powerful rotors dispersed throughout the aircraft. It weighs around 520 pounds, can hover 15 feet above ground, and can fly at a speed up to 25 miles per hour.
Possibly the best thing about this aircraft is that it is 100% electric. It uses no fossil fuels and will have the capability to be fully charged within a few hours. Also, the Flyer is safe, tested, and legal to operate in the US in all uncongested areas. It is an “ultralight aircraft” in terms of US law, which means that any laws for this type of aircraft apply to the Flyer. The most important of these laws is that no pilot’s license is required for ultralight aircraft. People will be able to fly it with only two hours of training.
The president of Kitty Hawk, Sebastian Thrun, has already had a huge impact in the world of transportation. He works as a computer science professor at Stanford University, but he has done a lot of work with Google. His biggest claim to fame is often being called the father of Google’s self-driving car because of his work in automation and data analytics for the project.
Besides the Flyer, the company is also currently working on another larger model called Cora to release in the near future. The Cora is meant to be used in the future as an accessible air taxi. The Cora is two seated and has 13 rotors. Kitty Hawk recently made a deal with the government of New Zealand that will allow them to test the Cora in New Zealand in its preliminary stages. If it does well, the Cora will be approved as an air taxi service in New Zealand.
Kitty Hawk has recently implemented a genius marketing strategy for their products. They invited famous youtube star, Casey Neistat, to their testing facility in the Nevada desert. He made a full daily blog about it and posted it for his 10 million loyal subscribers to see. Neistat went through two hours of training as promised by the company and flew the “Flyer”. You can check out the video below.
Besides Kitty Hawk, large companies like Boeing and Uber are working on hovercraft. Kitty Hawk recently held a conference in which they partnered with large corporations in order to be able to higher the chance of developing an air taxi service. However, flying taxis have large obstacles they have to overcome before they can actually be feasible.
Flying cars still face significant hurdles. The legal and engineering problems that come with them are impossible to overcome in today’s day and age. Although there are these setbacks, Kitty Hawk is a beacon of hope to the future of this mercurial industry.