After developing a widely popular search engine, both the Google co-founders are now looking to soar high in their respective aviation vehicles. While Larry Page has already backed a handful of flying car startups, Sergey Brin plans to travel in traditional fashion — using a zeppelin-like airship.
Citing sources aware of the development, Bloomberg reports that Sergey is building his own massive airship in a NASA hangar — but it still is a secretive project that’s being kept under wraps. Though the details of this aviation project are currently bleak, the publication mentions that the airship might just be a passion project. But you really never know, Brin could also be building a prototype to define the beginning of another new Alphabet venture.
This project, which surfaced on the same day as Uber’s significant VTOL Elevate project reveal, has been started due to Sergey Brin’s fascination with airships. He developed a keen interest in these older aviation wonders after visiting NASA’s Ames Research Center, where he would notice the photos of the USS Macon. This was one of the few airships developed and operated by the U.S Navy earlier in 1930’s.
What’s more interesting is that the USS Macon was once housed in the Ames hangar, before it was caught in a storm and crashed off the coast of Big Sur back in 1935. Sergey Brin, the publication writes, is now developing the airship inside the same Ames facility that Alphabet leased from NASA to conduct its aviation experiments in 2015. Google’s Planetary Ventures division was granted access to this massive hangar to use it as their lab and test area for new technologies.
As for Sergey Brin’s airship, the sources suggest that engineers are constantly working on this new project but the construction is not quite complete as of yet. They’ve already built a large metal frame (which will most likely be covered with carbon fiber and filled with helium gas) for his dream airship and it takes most of the space in the facility. This project is being spearheaded by Alan Weston, who was the former NASA program director overseeing the Ames program for the space agency.
Weston most likely shares the Google co-founder’s vision towards simplifying aviation by reviving the airship. He is positive that the use of this classic (and old) aviation technology would be cheaper and can enable cargo transportation over longer distances. He has gone on record to say that a helium-powered airship could easily haul 500 tons of cargo, while still being more fuel efficient than the semi-trucks we’re currently operating. During a radio interview, Weston said,
New airship technologies have the promise to reduce the cost of moving things per ton-mile by up to an order of magnitude. It depends on the size of the airship. A larger airship can reduce costs a lot more than a smaller ship, but there’s design of a class of vehicles that can lift up to 500 tons that could be actually more fuel-efficient than even a truck.
Further, there is no official word from either Google’s parent company or the co-founder himself. But, there is no chalk out the high probability of this project actually turning out to be the Mountain View-based tech giant’s new aviation venture — all because they’re already involved in Project Loon and numerous other satellite projects.
This will also be an interesting development as we can’t wait to witness Google’s innovation that they’ve poured into a classic airship. Google is already working on self-driving vehicles to cater to the masses on the ground, so building an aviation tech that can cater to the growing demand for freight across the globe could be a possibility. In the end, it could easily be Sergey Brin’s fascination of riding one of these large flying ships privately, that he is spending millions of bucks on it.
On the other hand, his partner in crime, Larry Page is marching forward to invest his billions of dollars into next-generation travel ventures. He is planning to provide everyone access to aviation technology similar to the widely popular cartoon series, the Jetsons, where the cars could fly about in the air. One of the startups he backed, Kitty Hawk, recently published their first commercial video and is now accepting $100 membership requests.