When we think about flying cars, we often picture Doc Brown’s time-hopping ride from Back to the Future Part II or Agent Coulson’s car from Agents of SHIELD. Even though engineers have been working on some for the public, it seems Google co-founder Larry Page has also been designing a personal craft of his own.
Called the Zee.Aero, Larry Page’s flying car has been kept top-secret until now. He kept it so far under the radar that the site dedicated to it is minimal in what it shows, and he even handed out cards to everyone working on it with phrases to deflect questions about it in case the press asks.
The first major indication of what Page and his engineers were working on was apparently when they dressed up in chicken suits at a Red Bull event and pushed a glider off the dock. That glider may have been a prototype for a possible road-ready vehicle to test its aerodynamics before going ahead with the project.
Google already has self-driving cars in use for taking snapshots of roadsides. These are the images you see when you go on Google Maps and check out the Street View. Advancements in automotive technology are making dramatic leaps all the time now, though your average pauper won’t be driving or owning one until the technology goes mainstream.
A prime example of technology going mainstream is when the PlayStation 2 launched. At the time, we were slowly transitioning from the VHS format (video cassettes) to DVDs, and the game console helped convince the public to splurge. Within the year, DVD sales zoomed as players became more affordable. The automotive industry is the same way. The more consumers buy a vehicle with certain options, the more affordable those options get in the future. Anti-lock brakes, which are considered standard now, used to be a luxury option.
— LeVar Thomas (@LeVarThomas) June 9, 2016
Google’s Larry Page has already put $100 million into the Zee.Aero project, and he also has a financial hand in Kitty Hawk, according to the Telegraph. His flying car project is said to be a “safe, quiet, easy to control, efficient and compact aircraft.” Plenty of speculation arises in the wake of that statement, since aircraft need a kind of propulsion system that usually makes a lot of noise. Rocket engines and fans strong enough to lift a human off the ground are never quiet.
— James Earle (@tennis6399) June 9, 2016
Page’s flying car is said to take off and land vertically, eliminating the need to maneuver on the two-dimensional plane once you have a space chosen. It could be a risky move until laws can be put in place governing such vehicles. Aircraft usually snag heavy restriction and depend on air traffic control personnel to keep them from crashing in mid-flight. If Larry Page’s design does what he claims it does, there will probably need to be special licenses to ensure that drivers can be responsible enough to operate them safely.
A lot of things need to change or be introduced before a flying car goes mainstream, including the world’s crumbling infrastructure. Mechanics will also need to be trained to deal with this new marvel in automotive technology.
If everything goes right with the Google flying car Zee.Aero, where we’re going, we won’t need roads.
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