Google's Larry Page may be working on flying cars

The Alphabet CEO is reported to be secretly backing companies that want to change how you travel

Google's Larry Page is reportedly investing $100 million in trying to build flying cars.

Page, Google co-founder and CEO of its parent company Alphabet, reportedly is the owner of Zee.Aero, a private company that may be working on an "all-electric plane that could take off and land vertically — a flying car," according to a report from Bloomberg.com, which cited 10 people with close knowledge of the startup. Zee.aero is also based in Mountain View, Calif., where Alphabet's headquarters are located.

There were few details on the Zee.Aero website, although it states the company is "designing, building, and testing better ways to get from A to B." The site also lists job openings for engineers in such areas as aerodynamics, flight controls and IT.

Credit documents list Eric Allison as president of the company, and Ilan Kroo, a Stanford professor of aeronautics and astronautics and former NASA researcher, as the founder. Kroo is also listed as the inventor in a patent for a personal aircraft with vertical lift rotors, registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The owner of the company was not mentioned in the documentation.

According to Bloomberg, Page has secretly been funding Zee.Aero and now owns the company. The report also says that people have reported seeing test flights of small aircraft taking off from an airport in Hollister, Calif.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment on Page's reported affiliation with Zee.Aero.

Page may not only be working on a flying car with Zee.Aero. The Bloomberg report says that Page also is backing a startup called Kitty Hawk, which is based close to Zee.Aero, and is reportedly working on a competing design.

On the Zee.Aero website, the company, which says it's "developing a revolutionary new form of transportation," is hiring engineers with expertise in aircraft design, machine learning, electric power systems and systems integration.

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"I think it makes sense for Larry Page," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. "He has always been a person with a mission to change the world and this would certainly fall into that camp. It's good to see him using his own personal money to do this versus just trying to hoard the money and make himself wealthier."

Zee.Aero and Kitty Hawk wouldn't be alone in working to develop flying cars.

For years, Massachusetts-based Terrafugia Inc. has been building and testing flying cars.

The aerospace company, founded by pilots and engineers from MIT, has been working to build a flyable car with foldable wings. Able to drive on roads and be parked in a garage, the vehicle is being developed to take off and land at small, local airports.

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Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
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