Flying car startup backed by Google founder offers test flights

June 6, 2018
Google founder Larry Page's startup Kitty Hawk , testing flying taxis such as this model in New Zealand, is moving a step closer to marketing its personal flying machines by offering test rides to US customers

A flying car project backed by Google co-founder Larry Page was closer to take-off on Wednesday, with a model for test flights by aspiring buyers.

Kitty Hawk, funded by Page, unveiled a "Flyer" model it described as "an exciting first step to sharing the freedom of flight."

The company was created last year in Google's home town of Mountain View, California, and has been testing a prototype in New Zealand.

Images and details were available at a freshly launched website at flyer.aero, and CNN posted coverage of a reporter taking to the air in a Flyer over a lake at a test site near Las Vegas.

Kitty Hawk chief executive Sebastian Thrun, who founded the Google X lab devoted to "moonshots" such as self-driving cars and internet-synched eyewear, was quoted by CNN as saying piloting Flyer was as easy playing the video game "Minecraft."

"Making Flyer accessible, which is what we do at our Lake Las Vegas training facility, helps more people experience the freedom and possibilities of vehicles of the future," a Kitty Hawk spokeswoman told AFP.

"Our immediate priority is to invite small groups of people—customers, influencers, media and community members - ​to experience the freedom of flight here in our newly opened training facility."

People interested in buying Flyers were invited at the website to apply for an invitation to do so, with no price specified.

An early version of Flyer was shown off last year.

The electric aircraft had 10 small lift rotors on its wings, making it capable of vertical take-off and landing like a helicopter.

Kitty Hawk said that at 15 meters (50 feet) away, it sounded about as lound as a lawn mower, while from 250 feet away the volume was on par with a loud conversation.

Test flights by first-timers were over water, with the top speed limited to 32 kilometers per hour (20 mph) and the altitude to no more than three meters.

The uncovered cockpit appeared big enough for one person, with their head poking out as it might from a go-kart.

"Flyer is designed to be easy to fly and flown for recreational purposes over water and uncongested areas," the website said.

"Flyer is Kitty Hawk's first personal flying vehicle and the first step to make flying part of everyday life."

The new flying machine is one of several concept vehicles being testing, with Uber and others in the mix.

Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in 1998, starting out in a Silicon Valley garage and transforming into one of the world's largest companies.

He remains chief executive of Google-parent Alphabet but the Kitty Hawk project is a personal pursuit, not part of the tech giant's operations.

Explore further: 'Personal flying machine' maker plans deliveries this year

Related Stories

'Personal flying machine' maker plans deliveries this year

April 24, 2017

A Silicon Valley "flying car" startup, Kitty Hawk, reportedly backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, released a video Monday of its airborne prototype and announced plans for deliveries of a "personal flying machine" this ...

Uber shows off its vision for future 'flying taxi'

May 8, 2018

It's not a bird, nor a plane. But Uber's new prototype vehicle unveiled Tuesday shows off its vision of the future of transportation—a "flying taxi" that aims to alleviate urban congestion.

Uber sets 'flying car' launch for 2020

April 25, 2017

Uber said Tuesday it wants to launch a system of flying cars to move people around cities, with a goal of putting demonstration projects in place by 2020.

Airbus tests self-flying taxi

February 2, 2018

Airbus said Friday that it had successfully held the first test flights of the Vahana, an electric, pilotless flying vehicle that it hopes will be able to ferry people around cities.

Recommended for you

Uber filed paperwork for IPO: report

December 8, 2018

Ride-share company Uber quietly filed paperwork this week for its initial public offering, the Wall Street Journal reported late Friday.

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

b_man
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 06, 2018
Would you trust Google not to kill you for some screwball ideology?
Macrocompassion
not rated yet Jun 07, 2018
They should investigate a powered parachute with a central centrifugal fan sending air into the canopy. It is safer and more efficient in generating lift that a helicopter of the same diameter.
Parsec
not rated yet Jun 07, 2018
They should investigate a powered parachute with a central centrifugal fan sending air into the canopy. It is safer and more efficient in generating lift that a helicopter of the same diameter.


And slow...
Thorium Boy
5 / 5 (1) Jun 08, 2018
Decades ago, insurance problems killed off most of the private plane traffic in N. America. No way that will change now, most people can barely drive let alone fly.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.