Kitty Hawk, the mysterious flying-car startup backed by Alphabet CEO Larry Page, has finally launched, and it says its first vehicle will be available by the end of this year.
Kitty Hawk President Sebastian Thrun, who helped create Google's self-driving-car project, on Monday tweeted a link to Kitty Hawk's website for the first time. The website shows a prototype Kitty Hawk Flyer in action.
The Kitty Hawk Flyer is an electric aircraft that, in its current version, looks a bit like a flying Jet Ski. Cimeron Morrissey, who test flew the aircraft, wrote in a review that the final version would look quite different from the prototype, which doesn't look all that practical.
A New York Times profile of the Flyer describes it as "something Luke Skywalker would have built out of spare parts." The vehicle weighs about 100 kilograms and, according to Morrissey, can travel up to 25 mph. She likened the Flyer to "a toy helicopter."
"The prototype looks and feels a lot like a flying motorcycle," she wrote. "You mount the seat and lean forward, just like you would on a bike.
"The controls are built into a set of handlebars and work similar to buttons and joysticks on a video game controller. It takes off and lands vertically, like a helicopter. But unlike a helicopter, the Flyer is 100% electric and powered by eight rotors."
According to the Kitty Hawk site, the machine is "safe, tested, and legal to operate in the US" as long as you fly it in "uncongested areas." You don't need a pilot's license to fly it, and Kitty Hawk says you can learn how to drive it in just a few hours.
The prototype is designed to fly over water, which is why it looks like a Jet Ski. The video shows Morrissey taking off in the Flyer over a lake in California, gliding about 10 metres above the water.
The company hasn't said how much a vehicle will cost but is offering an early $2,000 (£1,560) discount for people who are willing to cough up $100 now. That early payment will net you both the discount and potentially some test flights with the Flyer, according to The Times.
Here's the Kitty Hawk Flyer in action:
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