Alphabet CEO and Google co-founder Larry Page has been identified as the funding ‘guru’ for a couple of flying car startups that had created a buzz in the Silicon Valley streets a couple years ago. To fulfill his own dream of flying cars, the Google co-founder has been linked with these startups since their inception.
It has been revealed that Page had secretly funded an aviation startup named Zee.Aero, pouring in a chunk of his own wealth — following along the lines of his pal Elon Musk. Bloomberg reports that Page has invested $100 million into the aforementioned venture since it was founded in 2010, and has also put some money into another up and coming startup, called Kitty Hawk, that is working on a giant human-powered quad-copter drone.
Like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, the Alphabet CEO is taking cautious baby steps into investing his personal fortune to make his childhood dream a reality. Page’s holding in Zee.Aero have been kept a secret from the public for a very long time, even though there were questions floating around when the startup shifted to an industrial complex near the Google headquarters. And to eliminate any chance of error, Page had also asked the Zee.Aero crew to refer to him as GUS – the guy from upstairs.
Both Zee.Aero and Kitty Hawk have been working on their flying car prototypes for quite sometime now. Larry Page’s investment into another flying car startup and kind-of pitting them against each other to build the dream car shows that he’s completely serious and sees it as a mode of transportation of the future.
Zee.Aero is now conducting test flights at an airport that is just a 70 minute drive away from Mountain View. Even though they have tried to keep the whole project under wraps and test their prototype’s when no one is around, but people have sighted a narrow body, a bulbous cockpit with room for one person upfront, and a wing at the back. The sighted designs are in-line with the patents that Zee.Aero had filed a couple years ago. The concept is to build a car that can take off and land vertically using a plethora of small electric motors turning a set of four-bladed propellers.
While on the other hand, Kitty Hawk only has a dozen engineers, including some ex-Zee.Aero and Aerovelo employees — who are trying to aloft an enormous quad-copter. But, the highlight of the Kitty Hawk are the ex-Googlers Emerick and David Estrada who were working on the self-driving car and GoogleX legal affairs respectively. The Aerovelo team has had a fleeting success in the development of their flying car, but the Kitty Hawk team is hard at work to make it a reality, and maybe even before Zee.Aero
With all the details spread out for a feast in a podcast, Bloomberg is also correct to point out that flying cars are just a dream project right now, and there is no certainty if the Zee.Aero or Kitty Hawk designs will actually fly or not. Bloomberg also reports that,
There are still technology problems to solve, regulatory hurdles to cross, and urgent safety questions to answer. Page once vowed to a colleague that if his involvement in the sector ever became public, he might pull support from the companies.
Here, we hope that these far-fetched projects see the light of day very soon and Larry Page doesn’t pull support from the startups who are trying to engineer what could be called the ‘Future of Automobile Technology‘. And yeah, I guess Musk should gear up for some serious limelight competition from his buddy, Larry Page.