Flying car company Kittyhawk, backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, will shut down

Kittyhawk, the air taxi company backed by billionaire Google co-founder Larry Page, will close its doors, wreaking havoc on the long-elusive dream of developing flying cars.

“We have made the decision to end Kittyhawk,” the company said on Twitter. “We are still working on the details of the sequel.”

The company’s technology is expected to live on in the form of its Wisk Aero joint venture with Boeing Co. Wisk’s operations will not be affected by the Kittyhawk shutdown, Boeing said Wednesday.

Kittyhawk was founded in 2010 to pioneer the market for so-called eVTOL – electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft – with the lofty goal of democratize the sky. The secret company was led by Sebastian Thrun, a Google veteran who worked on self-driving cars, augmented reality glasses and other projects.

The company was one of many startups working on the concept, which turned out to be a bigger challenge than some had anticipated. Air taxis have had accidents during testing in recent months, raising concerns about their safety.

Initiated Previously reported on Kittyhawk’s closure plans.

Kittyhawk formed its Wisk business with Boeing Co. in 2019, and the planemaker later invested $450 million in the partnership. Earlier this week, Boeing and Wisk outlined their vision for a world where eVTOLs can co-exist with larger commercial aircraft.

“Kittyhawk’s decision to cease operations does not change Boeing’s commitment to Wisk,” a spokeswoman for the aircraft maker said in an email. “We are proud to be a founding member of Wisk Aero and excited to see the work they are doing to drive innovation and sustainability through the future of electric air travel.”

The aviation titan helped showcase Wisk’s rotor-powered Cora plane at the Farnborough International Airshow in July. In addition to funding the venture, Boeing has provided engineering resources for a larger four-seat electric plane that Wisk intends to eventually certify with U.S. regulators.

The air taxi market still has many competitors, including Joby Aviation Inc., Archer Aviation Inc., Germany’s Lilium NV and Brazil’s Eve, but they face uncertain prospects for these futuristic vehicles. Aviation regulators have yet to certify the next generation of flying machines to transport humans.

Kittyhawk’s goal was to create an air taxi that could be remotely piloted, was smaller and lighter than other eVTOLs and could take off from almost anywhere. The company was aiming for a cost of less than $1 per mile, which would have made taxis cheaper than ride-sharing services.

Now, Kittyhawk’s shutdown closes a chapter for one of eVTOL’s most prominent pioneers – and shows just how tough the market is to crack. On Wednesday, the company still had this message on its homepage: “If anyone can do it, we can.”

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