No Longer a Dream: Silicon Valley Takes On the Flying Car

There are challenges, no doubt, with both the technology and government regulations. Perhaps the biggest hurdle will be convincing the public that the whole idea isn’t crazy.

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A Flying Car Prototype From Silicon Valley

Kitty Hawk, a Silicon Valley company backed by Larry Page, a Google founder, began testing a prototype over a lake in Northern California.


By KITTY HAWK on Publish Date April 24, 2017.


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“I love the idea of being able to go out into my backyard and hop into my flying car,” said Brad Templeton, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has served as a consultant on Google’s self-driving project. “I hate the idea of my next-door neighbor having one.”

Kitty Hawk, the company backed by Mr. Page, is trying to be one of the first out of the gate and plans to start selling its vehicle by the end of the year.

The company has attracted intense interest because of Mr. Page and its chief executive, Sebastian Thrun, an influential technologist and self-driving car pioneer who is the founding director of Google’s X lab.

In 2013, Zee Aero, a Kitty Hawk division, became the object of Silicon Valley rumors when reports of a small air taxilike vehicle first surfaced.

Mr. Page declined a request for an interview but 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.”

During his recent test flight, 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.

The Kitty Hawk Flyer is one of several prototypes the start-up, based in Mountain View, Calif., is designing. The company hopes to create an audience of enthusiasts and hobbyists, who can pay $100 to sign up for a $2,000 discount on the retail price of a Flyer to “gain exclusive access to Kitty Hawk experiences and demonstrations where a select few will get the chance to ride the Flyer.”

Flying Carmakers

More than a dozen companies — from large to small — are now in various stages of creating…

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