Corporate capitalist Peter Thiel famously complained at Frontiers: “We wanted flying machines, and instead we got 140 characters.” Although Twitter has doubled the maximum tweet size to 280 characters, but we don’t see much progress in the world of Jetsons. Flying car fans noticed their hopes were further dashed last week when Google co-founder Larry Page launched flying car startup Kittyhawk.
“Nevertheless, we’re still figuring out the gist of what to follow,” the company wrote in a LinkedIn post.
Kittyhawk’s goal is to build an air taxi that can be managed remotely and taken off from almost anywhere. Bloomberg reports that the company is “focused on sub-$1 per mile, which could make taxis cheaper than ride-sharing.” The venture is led by CEO Sebastian Thrun, a pioneer with expertise in autonomous vehicles.
Many technologists believe that Kittyhawk is most likely to see flying vehicles in the near future. The company revealed an illustrated video of a flying car in 2017 and showed off a 2018 model of a flying car called the Flyer that could pick a person and fly 20 miles, according to CNBC.
The Flyer program ended within the 2020 Kittyhawk and shifted its focus to electric aircraft.
In 2019, Kittyhawk entered into a strategic partnership with Boeing to develop a fully autonomous electric aircraft called Wisk Aero. Boeing invested $450 million in the joint venture last year. Kittyhawk said its latest announcement would not have an impact on Boeing’s partnership. “Kittyhawk’s choice to cease operations does not change Boeing’s dedication to Wisk. We are proud to be a founding member of Wisk Aero and excited about the work they are doing to drive innovation and sustainability through the way electric air travel is moving forward. We expect Kitty Hawk’s statement does not in any way affect Wisk’s operations or other actions,” said a Kittyhawk spokesman on CNBC.
Many of Kittyhawk’s air taxi rivals remain in the enterprise, including Joby Aviation, Archer Aviation, Germany’s Lilium NV and Brazil’s Eve. However, expertise has proven difficult to develop. According to Bloomberg, air taxis have suffered multiple crashes throughout their testing over the past few months, raising concerns about their safety.
Google co-founder’s flying car startup is shutting down