Clearlake, CA: As if we hadn’t already had it up to here with flying car madness, yet another outfit announced their plans to make a flying car, complete with a video of their engineer flying the “car.”
The project might not be worth consideration had Larry Page not publically backed it. You know Page, the man behind Alphabet, which is the company behind Google.
Speaking of “the company behind” something, the flying contraption is the brainchild of a company called Kitty Hawk.
Contraption, because their creation looks nothing like a car. It’s in the title of this blog because the words “flying car” sell. Imagine if this blog read: “Google Backs Flying Pontoon Boat.”
It may not be a car, but then again, isn’t the idea that the flying… um… cars of the future would get us out of road congestion?
Well, by design, this flying CAR doesn’t even bother with those pesky roadways. You’d better work someplace where they have some industrial landscaping and a pond, though.
The allusion is not lost on most people. The first human flight lifted into the air in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
That day elevated the names Wilbur and Orville Wright into the national lexicon. One cannot talk about the history of flight without mentioning the Wright brothers.
The owners of Kitty Hawk hope to rub some magic off the name of that famous town. Considering they have the attention of Page, it seems to be working.
It was 2013 when they first came into Page’s viewfinder, but they aim to put something on the market by the end of this year. If you’ve been keeping score, that means we’ll have three vehicles sold as “flying car” from which to choose.
Let’s agree to call it that. The folks behind Kitty Hawk have made it clear that they have other designs, that this is one prototype.
One can imagine that adding wheels, were one so inclined, would be an easy task. It’s an eight-propeller drone, where the operator sits above the props, steering with a steering wheel like a car.
Who knows what their final design may have on the bottom. For this iteration, taking off and landing on water provided them the space to make mistakes. It would be far better to crash on water, at least for the heights the FAA allows them to fly.
The regulatory body categorizes their car as an ultralight aircraft, which means they can fly it low in specific places, like Clearlake, CA.
There, they don’t have to contend with other flying vehicles, as they would on at an airfield. Nor do they have to contend with cars or people. They have a field of water in which to make mistakes.
We’ve witnessed more failures than successes in this area. Here are six flying cars that really happened.
More recently, Airbus announced plans to launch a car/drone hybrid, but they only have a design so far. Another company, Aeromobile, starts selling their flying car later this year.
That one may work since it can only take off from an airport, at least legally.
If that weren’t enough, the PAL-V One, a car-helicopter hybrid is in presale, with more than one model available.
Flying drones, like the Airbus design and Kitty Hawk’s design, push the already stressed category of drones into a whole new category.
It’s one thing that we have RC drones invading our privacy, but a whole ‘nother bag that car-sized versions might carry people into the air.
The Kitty Hawk prototype is loud, which is a nuisance, but so are cruising bikes. Forget noise complaints, what about controlling air traffic?
There are no roads in the sky. Assuming these human drones take off (get it?) we need to some quick parameters for where they can fly, and in which direction unless we let them figure it out like boats, do on the open water.
The difference is, most boats on the water don’t go as fast as flying cars, even the flying car prototypes. The proliferation of entries to this category do point to one thing, though.
We’re are going to have to figure this out soon.
Don’t find it surprising when the first airways laws start popping up about right-of-ways, take-off and landing protocols, and more. Like it or not, we are approaching go time on this issue.
Here is Kitty Hawk’s promotional video: