As talked about in an earlier article, it seems the subject of “flying cars” has once again floated into the public mainstream. Once considered one of the “holy grails” of the idealized world of the future, the concept has suddenly appeared to come so near to fruition in recent weeks. A wide variety of companies and startups have thrown their hat into the ring of creating a viable and marketable machine that can run on road and then take to the air, with two such firms showing their flying car models at an automotive show in Monaco. Now another challenger reveals their design to the public.
Newsweek reports that a flying car design startup backed by Google co-founder Larry Page finally has their vehicle go through its first test flight. The company, called Kitty Hawk after the North Carolina town where the Wright Brothers made their successful controlled powered airplane flights (in the hills outside), has released a video online showcasing the abilities of their prototype, named the Flyer after the Wrights’ plane. Much like the models showed off by Slovakian and Dutch startups at Monaco’s Top Marques car show, the Kitty Hawk Flyer doesn’t look anything like a flying car from say, “Back to the Future” or “The Fifth Element”, but it still impressed on its first flight.
One thing about the Flyer that’s different from other flying car prototypes that have made the news lately is that it’s not a land vehicle; it operates over water only, powered by electricity. What Kitty Hawk’s design has over others like Slovakia’s AeroMobil however, is that the vehicle’s lightweight design is enough for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to classify it as an ultra-light aircraft, meaning its “driver” doesn’t need a pilot’s license to operate it.
The Kitty Hawk Flyer goes up into the air by means of multiple small propellers under its base. The shape of the vehicle chassis makes it look like a jet ski when on the water, but once the Flyer gets to flying, some observers liken the sight to a pilot flying a giant quad-copter drone.
In a statement, Page talked about the flying machine’s development saying, “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.” It has been reported that the Google cofounder invested about $100 million into Kitty Hawk and other similar startups working on flying cars. No price has been given but at best estimate, the Flyer could become commercially available by the end of the year.
Photo courtesy of Engadget