Silicon Valley startup Kitty Hawk – backed by Google's Larry Page, who also threw his weight behind a rotor-based flying car a few years back – has released a video showing off the prototype of an upcoming all-electric personal flying machine it's calling The Flyer. The company says that users won't need to secure a pilot's license to fly the eight rotor vehicle, and promises a swift learning curve.
Details are scant at the moment, but the Flyer's hashtag-shaped pipe structure is topped by protective webbing and has two rotors attached to each pipe for a total of eight. A pair of short pontoons cater for take-off and landing on water.
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A user safely sits above the webbing in a single seat and steers the craft with U-shaped handlebars. There looks to be a control board inbetween the grips, with a start switch to the right and some sort of display in the middle. The screen doesn't show anything in the promo video but will likely show system status information at the very least.
The star of the promo video, Cimeron Morrissey, says that riders "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."
She also reveals that pitch and yaw, as well as throttle, are all controlled from the handlebar grips and the Flyer can reach speeds of up to 25 mph (40 km/h). No other specs or performance information have been released, so we'll have to wait for the next project installment for batteries and range details.
Kitty Hawk says that its Flyer is safe to fly, easy to learn and legal to use in the US, and doesn't require riders to have a pilot's license. As it's classed by the FAA as an ultralight aircraft, it "may be flown in uncongested areas of the US" for recreational purposes, but has been designed for water use only. The company currently has no plans to ship outside of the US.
The version seen in the images and video is not market-ready, and Kitty Hawk reckons that a more polished production version of The Flyer will go on sale by the end of this year. No price has been given at this time, though a US$2,000 discount for those who sign up for membership ($100 for 3 years) is quite suggestive.
Speaking of polished, have a look at the promo video below to see the prototype in action. It definitely views more like an advertisement than raw prototype test footage, but appears to show the Kitty Hawk craft flying over a Northern Californian lake and performing slick maneuvers.
It's not quite as jaw-drop impressive as Franky Zapata's hoverboard record flight we witnessed last year, but will doubtless be a much quieter and greener way to zip from shore to yacht and back again. Assuming it ever gets to production.
Source: Kitty Hawk