Flying cars have long been a preoccupation of Silicon Valley’s ruling class, and one of the tech industry’s brightest hopes for turning Jetsonian fantasy into a reality is finally making its work public.
Kitty Hawk, a highly secretive startup whose only publicly known investor is Google co-founder Larry Page, on Monday revealed a demo video. The Kitty Hawk Flyer is an “all-electric aircraft” that can apparently land on and take off from either land or water. The company says users don’t need a pilot’s license to use the Flyer, and that anyone can “learn to fly it safely in minutes.”
In a letter from founders Todd Reichert and Cameron Robertson, the company says that the Flyer’s “consumer version will be available by the end of this year.”
Kitty Hawk is also encouraging those interested to purchase a three-year “Flyer Discovery Membership” for $100 fee. The perks include a $2,000 “exclusive access” to the Kitty Hawk “flight simulator, flight demonstrations, and events where a select few will get the chance to ride the Flyer.”
It’s a strategy similar to that of Tesla’s Elon Musk, who has long asked prospective buyers to put down cash in order to be placed on a waiting list.
Kitty Hawk, whose president is ex-Google artificial intelligence doyen and Larry Page confidante Sebastian Thrun, isn’t the only company with Silicon Valley heavyweights behind it to pursue the flying car dream.
Zee, which has also taken funding from Page, claims it is “developing a revolutionary new form of transportation.” And in September, a senior Uber executive said that the ride-hailing behemoth is also researching VTOL — vertical takeoff and landing — technology.