You may have seen this morning’s article in The New York Times about the Kitty Hawk, a flying machine that is shown here on video screaming through the air over a serene mountain lake north of San Francisco.
It’s not a “car,” in that it has pontoons instead of wheels and carries one presumably-very-light passenger. The Kitty Hawk weighs 220 pounds and is lifted by eight propellers driven by battery power. (And flying on battery power may just be the greatest expression of “range anxiety” ever created. The NYT report indicates the test pilot’s flight lasted just 5 minutes. Also, the craft flew at a height of 15 feet and is restricted by the FAA to flying over open water – perhaps because 15 feet is roughly the height of trees and power lines.)
Kitty Hawk is the aircraft – and also the name of the company that makes it, and it’s backed by Google founder Larry Page, reportedly to the tune of $100 million. Kitty Hawk’s chief executive, Sebastian Thrun, is, as the Times says, “an influential technologist and self-driving car pioneer who is the founding director of Google’s X lab.”
The company promises to bring to market the machine you’re seeing here by the end of this year. So even if this concept never becomes a car, it sure looks like a fun alternative to a personal watercraft.
Silicon Valley players such as Page and Thrun, and actual aviation companies such as Airbus, are working on concepts. There is a lot of talk in the air about flying cars. But here in the air is an actual machine, not just talk.