The mysterious flying-car startup funded by Google cofounder Larry Page, Kitty Hawk, finally took the wraps off its first vehicle on Monday.
The Kitty Hawk Flyer looks a mix between a flying jet-ski and, as John Markoff of The New York Times put it, “something Luke Skywalker would have built out of spare parts.” It’s designed to be flown over water and will be available for sale by the end of this year.
Kitty Hawk says that its flyer can be operated without a pilot’s licence as long as you fly it in “uncongested areas.” The startup hasn’t said how much the flyer will cost, but it’s offering an early $US2,000 discount for people who are willing to pay $US100 now to get on the waitlist.
Here’s everything we know so far about the Kitty Hawk flyer and the other flying cars that are being funded by Larry Page:
The Kitty Hawk Flyer is a fully-electric aircraft with eight rotors that weights about 220 pounds and seats one person.
The vehicle is designed to fly above fresh water with two pontoons at its bottom. The prototype Kitty Hawk is showing off “looks and feels a lot like a flying motorcycle,” according to Cimeron Morrissey, who tested it.
The flyer is controlled by two handlebars and what looks like a giant touchscreen. It travels at up to 25 miles per hour at a max of 15 feet above water.
The Kitty Hawk Flyer doesn’t need a runway for take-off or landing. Here’s it making a vertical landing in action:
Kitty Hawk is calling its current flyer a “functional prototype” and notes that “the shipping version will have a different look and feel.”
Kitty Hawk says that you don’t need a pilot’s licence to operate its flyer and that it’s meant to be flown in “uncongested areas.”
Kitty Hawk / YouTube
Final pricing hasn’t been unveiled, but Kitty Hawk says its flyer will go on sale later this year. Those who pay $US100 to be put on a priority waitlist on Kitty Hawk’s website will receive $US2,000 off the final price.
Kitty Hawk is also offering early backers three years of membership to its community program, which promises “exclusive access to Kitty Hawk experiences and demonstrations” along with special gear.
The Kitty Hawk Flyer is just one flying vehicle being worked on by the Larry Page-backed startup. Page has reportedly invested more than $US100 million into Kitty Hawk and its other division, Zee Aero. Both organisations have registered to test a number of different aircraft, from gliders to sailplanes.
The goal of Kitty Hawk and Zee Aero is to one day reinvent personal transportation. Both divisions have roughly 100 employees combined. The CEO of Kitty Hawk is Sebastian Thrun, cofounder of Udacity and the father of Google’s self-driving car project.
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