Kitty Hawk has a simple corporate vision – to free people from traffic by using a flying car to re-define the term mobility.
In case you might be thinking that this Silicon Valley start-up can’t be serious, then you should have a look at the CEO’s credentials. Sebastian Thrun was the founder of X (previously Google X), where he led the development of the self-driving car, Google Glass, and other projects. He spent several years as a professor at Stanford University where he led the Stanford Racing Team, whose “Stanley” won the DARPA Grand Challenge and he has assembled an impressive team of aviation visionaries.
They have started the journey by designing, testing and building all-electric vertical take-off and landing products for work and play. By partnering with public and private customers we will improve our urban and natural environments with efficient and reliable mobility.
Here’s another couple of items that may lead you to not completely dismiss this idea out of hand. Uber is working on an air taxi service called Elevate. Their announcement of this project in 2016 is what launched the flying car industry.
Five manufacturers, including Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, helicopter maker Bell, and Brazil’s EmbraerX, have signed on to produce aircraft. Uber might buy and operate the vehicles itself or work with a company that owns them. The aircraft might fly themselves or have pilots.
Speaking of Boeing, I spoke with a good friend today who is now retired after 40 years in software including work with mobile lidar data, imagery and data formats. He noted that it was software that most likely caused the Boeing jet disasters and that he would need to see a lot of testing before he would ever ride in a truly autonomous vehicle. I can only imagine what he would think of a flying car.
Not in my lifetime.
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