Google's Larry Page bankrolling two flying car moonshot projects - report

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Google co-founder Larry Page isn't waiting for his company's self-driving car technology to hit the market before reportedly looking toward the next big thing: personal flying cars.


Alleged photo of a Zee.Aero prototype, via SFGate.


Page is the owner of Zee.Aero, a Silicon Valley startup located next to Google's headquarters working on a small airplane that can take off and land vertically, according to Bloomberg. The project appears to be a personal investment for Page and is not funded by or directly affiliated with Google.

While Zee.Aero reportedly has about 150 employees working on a flying car, Page has also reportedly funded a second, competing company working toward the same goal, named Kitty Hawk. The other startup is said to be located about a half-mile away and is run by Sebastian Thrun, who used to work for Google's X division and spearheaded its self-driving car project.

The report published Thursday indicated that while a number of companies are working on mostly autonomous commuter planes, the two projects backed by Page appear to be the most fully realized visions thus far.

People who have seen Zee.Aero prototypes say the airplanes are "pushers" with propellers in the back and a bulbous cockpit with room for one person up front. The company reportedly has two prototypes: One that looks like a traditional plane, while the other has six small propellers along the main body.

Less is known about the designs that the Kitty Hawk team are working on, including among Zee.Aero employees, who are purposefully kept in the dark to encourage competition and innovation. It was said that Kitty Hawk's project resembles a giant quadcopter drone.

Bloomberg characterized Page's investments in the two companies as a "deeply personal" endeavor for the billionaire, who hopes to change transportation considerably.

Larry Page


Page's restless nature is well known, as he's been involved in so-called "moonshot" projects through Google and otherwise for years. In an interview back in 2014, Page contrasted himself with late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, saying he disagreed with Jobs's highly focused approach to developing new products.

"(Jobs) would always tell me, 'You're doing too much stuff.' I'd be like, 'You're not doing enough stuff,'" Page said. He added that it "seems like a crime" to earn billions of dollars and not invest it in things that could make people's lives better.

While many of Google's forward thinking projects, including its self-driving car technology, are publicly known, Apple keeps its research and development efforts tightly sealed behind closed doors. There has never been an indication Apple has worked on or is currently pursuing any ambitious "moonshot" projects within its labs.
singularity
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    ericthehalfbeeericthehalfbee Posts: 4,473member
    Anyone remember this?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moller_M400_Skycar

    Flying cars are a stupid idea, plain and simple.
    patchythepiratebdkennedy1002mejsric
  • Reply 2 of 35
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,707member
    Page contrasted himself with late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, saying he disagreed with Jobs's highly focused approach to developing new products.

    And this can be seen in Google's track record with these moonshot projects over the years.  Lots of ideas, the vast majority of them end up lacking the refinement needed to become products which truly make people's lives better.  Then they get bored and move on to the next thing, leaving a wake of half-baked technologies to pass into history.

    Page, check the history of all inventions which have become part of our everyday lives (automobiles, airplanes, computers, appliances, etc) and you'll find people who have obsessed over the details.  Obviously you need the moonshot idea investors to get things rolling, but you need that Jobs-like obsession with every little detail (and a clear vision + refusal to accept failure) to make them truly things which are indispensable in our daily lives.
    quadra 610palominepatchythepiratebadmonkjony0argonauturaharacornchip
  • Reply 3 of 35
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,757member
    "(Jobs) would always tell me, 'You're doing too much stuff.

    Yep.
    patchythepiratebdkennedy1002radarthekatbadmonkjony0argonautcornchip
  • Reply 4 of 35
    maecvsmaecvs Posts: 129member
    Flying cars are a great idea, one that is long overdue. It's the people behind the wheel that will be the problem.......
    anton zuykovmike1badmonkargonaut
  • Reply 5 of 35
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Why do people even do this?  It is the same as the battery powered electric car; both applications being impractical without a significant advance in the energy storage part of the equation, assuming the plane is electric powered.
    lkruppbadmonk
  • Reply 6 of 35
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 1,030member
    He added that it "seems like a crime" to earn billions of dollars and not invest it in things that could make people's lives better.

    Page sounds like a real prick.  Apple is investing in things that make people's lives better.  Ask a few hundred million happy users.  Page is investing in things that will make a person's life better. Who exactly is the customer for a flying car?  Suppose it's not your odd billionaire or celebrity but they actually become widespread.  Tell me life won't be hell if there are thousands of them flying over your home town.
    fotoformatpatchythepirateradarthekatbadmonkjony0argonaut
  • Reply 7 of 35
    palominepalomine Posts: 362member
    My coffee came out through my nose when I saw this headline. Google has no ability to pick projects. They are the mythical monkey that will have to type for a trillion years to accidentally write a sonnet. 

    Apple has an actual process for these ideas. Most of them don't get past the casual conversations at lunch because of obvious reasons.

    hey Google, how's that glucose meter contact lense for diabetics coming along? Oh, that's right, diabetics do have sensitive eyes and have trouble with contacts...
    auxiolkrupppatchythepirateradarthekatbadmonkjony0argonaut
  • Reply 8 of 35
    Just give Jay Carter or John McGinnis ten million dollars each. http://www.cartercopters.com http://synergyaircraft.com
    edited June 2016 steveh
  • Reply 9 of 35
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,552member
    cnocbui said:
    Why do people even do this?  It is the same as the battery powered electric car; both applications being impractical without a significant advance in the energy storage part of the equation, assuming the plane is electric powered.
    Nonsense. 
  • Reply 10 of 35
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,552member
    This project's purpose is probably to find what the issues are to build a flying car, not actually building it. Automated flying cars might work, but first we need to find a different way of propulsion.  
    mike1crowley
  • Reply 11 of 35
    singularitysingularity Posts: 1,328member
    palomine said:
    My coffee came out through my nose when I saw this headline. Google has no ability to pick projects. They are the mythical monkey that will have to type for a trillion years to accidentally write a sonnet. 

    Apple has an actual process for these ideas. Most of them don't get past the casual conversations at lunch because of obvious reasons.

    hey Google, how's that glucose meter contact lense for diabetics coming along? Oh, that's right, diabetics do have sensitive eyes and have trouble with contacts...
    You do realise it's him as an individual not Google doing the investing?
    And why not investing money if you have into moonstone projects. You never know what will come out of it... even a flying car is a possibility or interesting technology or engineering that can be used elsewhere.
    As for that lense, Novartis eye care division signed to license it. So they must see (no pun intended) something in it.
    edited June 2016 techlover
  • Reply 12 of 35
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    palomine said:
    My coffee came out through my nose when I saw this headline. Google has no ability to pick projects. They are the mythical monkey that will have to type for a trillion years to accidentally write a sonnet. 

    Apple has an actual process for these ideas. Most of them don't get past the casual conversations at lunch because of obvious reasons.

    hey Google, how's that glucose meter contact lense for diabetics coming along? Oh, that's right, diabetics do have sensitive eyes and have trouble with contacts...
    But this stuff gets the media attention and the public eats it up. As a kid in the 50s I watched “Walt Disney Presents” on Sunday evenings and marveled at all the things predicted to occur in my lifetime. I’m 65 now and most of them have not yet come to pass. Research is great. Thinking about the future is great but at some point you have to shoot the engineers and start production. That’s what Apple is good at, making things.
    edited June 2016 palominepatchythepirateradarthekat
  • Reply 13 of 35
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,268member
    Everybody knows that flying cars have to make a certain "Whir Whir" sound and have bubbles come out of the exhaust.Just ask George Jetson.
    bdkennedy1002
  • Reply 14 of 35
    tmaytmay Posts: 6,254member
    Just give Jay Carter or John McGinnis ten million dollars each. http://www.cartercopters.com http://synergyaircraft.com
    I think that you will find that tilt rotor or alternately, tilting ducted fan designs will win out in the market. Cartercopter will end up having the cost and complexity of a helicopter, and Synergy Aircraft looks to be an efficient (un) conventional light aircraft design, not a V/STOL aircraft.

    Look up NASA's Greased Lightning drone for a look at what electric tilt rotors are doing now. I think you will agree that V/STOL will be preferred over VTOL for both drones and light aircraft when range and duration of mission are factored in.



  • Reply 15 of 35
    ericthehalfbeeericthehalfbee Posts: 4,473member
    Wow, 4 downvotes but not one of those cowards wants to challenge what I post?

    Flying cars ARE stupid. They are not fuel efficient, they are very costly to manufacture AND certify (and they will require certification), will require a complete overhaul of FAA regulations to be allowed to fly (and people think rules regarding autonomous cars are going to get complicated) and don't actually solve any transportation problems. They are the ultimate luxury gadget for the wealthy.
    edited June 2016 bdkennedy1002tmaybadmonkpalominemejsricargonaut
  • Reply 16 of 35
    People can't even use drones within the law and we're going to trust people with flying cars? Not going to happen.
    palomineargonaut
  • Reply 17 of 35
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 1,030member
    Wow, 4 downvotes but not one of those cowards wants to challenge what I post?

    Flying cars ARE stupid. They are not fuel efficient, they are very costly to manufacture AND certify (and they will require certification), will require a complete overhaul of FAA regulations to be allowed to fly (and people think rules regarding autonomous cars are going to get complicated) and don't actually solve any transportation problems. They are the ultimate luxury gadget for the wealthy.
    I couldn't agree more.  You all think other drivers suck on the ground?  You think the neighbors are annoying with their car?  Just wait until they're flying in and out at all hours of the day and night.  Just wait until some drunks are crashing into houses.  These things surely will rock for warfare though, especially if the driver/pilot isn't concerned about landing.  Flying cars are not solving a problem, they're creating a host of new ones.  These are vanity projects for the rich.  BTW, wasn't the Segway supposed to change the world?  Hasn't really changed much for anyone besides street-level donut chasers.
    badmonkargonaut
  • Reply 18 of 35
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    bdkennedy said:
    People can't even use drones within the law and we're going to trust people with flying cars? Not going to happen.
    Not going to happen without the operators getting a pilot license, which solves any problems.
  • Reply 19 of 35
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    clemynx said:
    cnocbui said:
    Why do people even do this?  It is the same as the battery powered electric car; both applications being impractical without a significant advance in the energy storage part of the equation, assuming the plane is electric powered.
    Nonsense. 

    Oh really?

    Play that video tmay posted.  Fast forward to 2:15 and hear the chief enginner of the project say:  "So what we are waiting for is until the lithium battery technology can SIGNIFICANTLY improve it's energy density..."  Is he talking nonsense?  You know something he and I don't?

    It's the same with the electric car - fantastic concept, pity about the battery.   If Norway does ban all hydrocarbon fueled cars, I will bet they reverse the decision soon after.  Get caught in a blizzard with in an electric vehicle and you will likely freeze to death.  At temperatures below zero C, an electric cars range can be halved.

    The lack of a really good energy storage technology is also the main factor that makes renewables sourced electricity production pretty much an expensive waste of time.   Behind all solar and wind powered energy generating schemes is a conventional power plant propping it up and making it look as if it works.

    A massive improvement in energy storage tech is about the biggest killer app one can imagine, so many great things would become practical and possible with it.   Nothing would please me more than a breakthrough that makes electric cars, electric planes, solar and wind power all practical concerns without the fudges, lies and compromises.
    toddzrx
  • Reply 20 of 35
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,799member
    That is not a flying car. If it can even get off the ground it would be an aircraft. You can't drive that down the freeway or parallel park it.
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