Back in 2010, Google co-founder Larry Page started Kitty Hawk with the aim to develop affordable, efficient, and relatively quiet personal aircraft that could be used to cross major cities in minutes, instead of hours that the same traffic-filled routes would take by car.
Kitty Hawk has presented a number of concepts over the years, one of which is a single-seat, VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) multicopter called the Flyer. At a weight of just 250 pounds, it falls into a category of aircraft that doesn’t require a pilot’s license, meaning it can be flown by just about anyone. And thanks to similar control technology used in drones, the Flyer is easier to control than a bicycle, according to its designers.
In 2018, it seemed like production of the Flyer was just around the corner, but Kitty Hawk announced Wednesday it has abandoned the project.
Instead, the company wants to focus on more powerful VTOL aircraft that can travel faster and farther and with more occupants. The company already has a new design in the works called the Heaviside (often abbreviated to HVSD).
The Heaviside more closely resembles a conventional aeroplane, but it’s still capable of VTOL. Like the Flyer, it’s powered by batteries and electric motors, and according to Kitty Hawk the early prototypes can already reach speeds of up to 180 mph and cover 100 miles on a charge.
Kitty Hawk also started work on a fully autonomous VTOL aircraft called the Cora. However, in 2019 the Cora was transferred to a joint venture between Boeing and a new company called Wisk Aero. Development of the Cora is ongoing, with test flights taking place in New Zealand.