Remember all of those dystopian futures where our skies are filled with grimy flying cars spewing smog across the land? The co-founder of Google is hoping to make that future a reality, at least according to Bloomberg. It's published a report claiming that Larry Page has been secretly bankrolling Zee.Aero and Kitty Hawk, two California startups working on developing a serious flying car. While the former is based on the edges of Google's Mountain View campus, Page's involvement has been considered a secret, until now.
According to ten (ten!) sources familiar with the matter, Zee.Aero has developed a pair of prototype aircraft which it tests regularly. It has a facility close to a runway in Hollister in southern California, where locals claim to have seen weird craft hovering overhead. The report describes them as plane-like vehicles, with propellers in the rear – one small enough for a single person, the other seemingly more capacious. Last year, website LongTailPipe found a patent detailing the firm's thinking, with rotor blades lining a plane-style cockpit. As top-secret as the project is, Zee.Aero engineers have been known to show off their skills, breaking the cruising record for unpowered flight at the 2013 Red Bull Flugtag.
Kitty Hawk, meanwhile, was apparently spun out by Page as a competing project, led by Sebastian Thrun, founder of Google's X Lab. Thrun is also famous for being one of the minds behind the search engine's self-driving car project way back when. Page apparently believes that two companies, competing directly with each other, will help get the job done faster. The smaller firm is working on something closer to a quadcopter drone, reminding us of EHang's 184 passenger drone.
Unfortunately, Bloomberg believes that merely reporting on Page's involvement with both firms might kill his dreams dead. It claims that the Google co-founder said that, if his connection was made public, he'd withdraw in an instant. Although maybe he's better off directing his energies toward a mode of transportation that'll help solve the problems more people face today, like mass transit.This article by Daniel Cooper originally appeared on Engadget.