Back in June last year that we first reported on Google co-founder Larry Page’s flying car project called Zee.Aero but it now looks like while Zee.Aero may be focused on the flying car concept itself, it’s a division of a the larger Kitty hawk startup which is dedicated to bringing into reality the concept vehicles that can take off and land vertically.
Kitty Hawk which is a startup backed by Larry Page unveiled a light aircraft that takes off and land vertically on water. With closer resemblance to a car than a jet ski, the prototype looks like something that can convey just a passenger over a not so long distance. According to their Facebook description, we are told that “The Kitty Hawk Flyer is a new, all-electric aircraft. It is safe, tested and legal to operate in the United States in uncongested areas under the Ultralight category of FAA regulations. We’ve designed our first version specifically to fly over water. You don’t need a pilot’s license and you’ll learn to fly it in minutes.”
While it isn’t exactly a flying car, it’s the most practical step so far to seeing vehicles that take off and land vertically and for those who haven’t taken this seriously over the years, you might want to pay attention now because more tech giants including Airbus and Uber have started looking in this direction.
In a statement provided to The New York Times, Larry Page said “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” and on Twitter Kitty Hawk CEO Sebastian Thrun described the feat as “changing the future of personal transportation.”
Now if this prototype doesn’t look like your typical flying car concept, well you are not alone in this. It does however mark the beginning of such vehicles in the air. With respect to distance the new Kitty Hawk aircraft can fly, The New York Times reported that “Cameron Robertson, the aerospace engineer, used two joysticklike controls to swing the vehicle back and forth above Clear Lake, sliding on the air as a Formula One car might shimmy through a racecourse. The flight, just 15 feet above the water, circled over the lake about 20 or 30 yards from shore, and after about five minutes Mr. Robertson steered back to a floating landing pad at the end of a dock.”
By receiving approval from the American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be flown in in “uncongested areas”, sale of the ultralight aircraft is set to be begin by the end of 2017 but you may likely need a pilot’s license to fly one.
While we don’t know much about pricing for now, Kitty Hawk hopes to get people to sign up for an exclusive experience for $100 annually which could qualify the member for a $2,000 discount when it finally goes on sale too.
They don’t also intend to limit the experience to the US alone according to the FAQs section of their website which says “We do not intend to restrict the location from which you place an order for the Flyer except for embargoed countries, however we do not have current plans to ship the vehicle abroad. If you would like to ship abroad, we recommend that you research the regulatory requirements and delivery options that are available where you live. You would need to take possession within the US and make your own delivery arrangements afterward.”