Sunday 4 December 2016

Google's Larry Page is secretly working on a flying car

Cara McGoogan

Published 09/06/2016 | 15:33

Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox in Back To The Future
Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox in Back To The Future

Google co-founder Larry Page has already moved on from self-driving cars - to flying cars. Page is secretly funding two flying car start ups that hope to make flying to work a reality, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

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Page has reportedly funnelled $100 million (£69m) of his own money into one of the companies, called Zee.Aero, which filed patents for a small plane that could take off and land vertically.

The patent for the electric vehicle indicates that the company, which was established in 2010, is working on personal flying vehicle.

It is described as a "safe, quiet, easy to control, efficient and compact aircraft". 

The patent Zee.Aero filed for a small flying vehicle that takes off and lands vertically Credit: United States Patent Office
The patent Zee.Aero filed for a small flying vehicle that takes off and lands vertically Credit: United States Patent Office

Zee.Aero is highly secretive. Its website is sparse and its employees were given credit-card sized leaflets outlining how to deflect questions from journalists, according to Bloomberg.

"We're designing, building and testing better ways to get from A to B," says Zee.Aero on its website.

As well as investing in or, as Bloomberg speculates, owning Zee.Aero, Page has also put money into another flying car company called Kitty Hawk, which is rumoured to be working on a quadcopter that can transport people.

Chinese company unveils passenger drone prototype Chinese company unveils passenger drone prototype Play! 04:52  

The boundaries standing in the way of flying cars are significant. There are technology, safety and regulatory difficulties that need to be resolved before we'll be able to fly to the office or the shops.

We are still struggling with these issues for non-passenger drones, which are increasingly causing air collisions. According to the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), there were 23 drone-related incidents at UK airports between November and April, including 12 near-misses.

We came one step closer to the reality yesterday when US state Nevada gave a Chinese company the go-ahead to trial an autonomous drone that can transport humans.

The Ehang 184 personal quadcopter is expected to take to Nevada's skies later this year. Ehang has raised $52 million to date, half the amount of cash that Page is reported to have pumped into Zee.Aero.

Other attempts to create a personal flying vehicle include Aeoromobil's flying car and the Terrafugia TF-X, which could be available for the public to buy within the decade.

Telegraph.co.uk

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