The future was supposed to bring us a number of things: jetpacks, self-lacing shoes, hoverboards and flying cars. So far, the future sucks at delivering on its promises, but one man is trying to change that. And that man is none other than Google’s co-founder, Larry Page, who is spending some of his personal fortune to develop flying cars.
Yes, George Jetson’s world will become real if Page has anything to say about it, as the noted tech figure has reportedly spent upwards of $100 million on not one, but two companies, developing flying cars.
According to a Bloomberg report that’s citing 10 people familiar with the matter, Page has been funding and running Zee.Aero and Kitty Hawk. The two companies have been developing flying cars for years now, and Page currently has them competing against each other on separate designs. Prototype devices are already being flown in the wild but a user-ready flying car isn’t expected for at least a decade.
Like his friend, Elon Musk, Page seems to want to change the face of transportation around the world. While flying cars already exist they are incredibly expensive and almost useless. Page, however, wants to go for the low-end of the market and bring the technology to everyone in the future.
Of course, flying cars aren’t a new concept and over the years, countless enthusiasts, companies and even the US military have toyed with the idea and tried to make it a reality. But according to people familiar with the industry, this is now a golden age for flying cars thanks to new materials and technologies.
For one thing, the development of batteries and electric vehicles has proven to be a real boon for this Jetsonian industry which now relies primarily on electric motors. Secondly, self-driving cars may still be a decade away from public availability but the algorithms and programs developed for those are ready for use in flying cars. That’s because you never run into a construction crew, or children that jump in front of the car when you’re flying through the clouds, so even today’s limited algorithms are more than enough when flying around.
Obviously the concept of flying cars is attractive to many people, but it still faces major challenges going forward, not the least of which is safety. After all, running out of battery juice on the highway is one thing, doing it up in the sky is somewhat different. Then there’s the issue of cost, with devices such as these usually priced well over $250,000. At those prices, Uber seems like a better alternative.
Obviously there’ no reason to get excited about flying cars in the next few years, but if there’s one thing this report proves, it's that creativity, ingeniousness and a will to change things for the better are still alive and well in the world of tech.
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