Kitty Hawk 5

  • Kitty Hawk, the mysterious flying-car startup funded by Google cofounder Larry Page, unwrapped its updated vehicle on Wednesday.
  • The Flyer is now open for test flights for potential customers, and CNN reporter Rachel Crane was the first journalist allowed to pilot the vehicle.
  • Kitty Hawk promises to get people in the air in less than an hour because of the Flyer’s simple control system, which comprises just two joysticks.
  • Thrun said securing public acceptance for the Flyer is the company’s biggest priority and he hopes to learn a lot from test flights.

Kitty Hawk, the mysterious flying-car startup funded by Google cofounder Larry Page, unwrapped a huge update on Wednesday — and is promising to get people up in the air in under an hour.

Kitty Hawk revealed its first vehicle last year. Over the past 12 months, Flyer has received an update and is now open for test flights for potential customers interested in placing pre-orders.

Kitty Hawk published a 37-second video unveiling the updated Flyer and allowed CNN reporter Rachel Crane to become the first journalist to pilot the vehicle.

For safety reasons, the Flyer is still being tested exclusively over water at a secret facility in Las Vegas. After just an hour’s training, Crane was able to fly the machine at a speed of 6 mph and height of 10 feet over the expanse of water.

Kitty Hawk CEO Sebastian Thrun, who helped create Google’s self-driving-car project, hopes the vehicles will one day be able to fly at up to 100 mph over populated areas. “It’s as easy to use as playing Minecraft,” he joked.

The commercial vehicle is powered by a lithium polymer battery, which can be used for around 20 minutes before it needs recharging. Flyer has 10 motors and just two control sticks, which CNN’s Crane said were easy to master.

“The joystick is so intuitive, but it’s not the most comfortable thing I’ve ever sat in,” she said. “You definitely feel the vibrations.”

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With its small fleet of Flyers, Kitty Hawk has already conducted about 1,500 flights among interested business partners and social influencers, according to CNN. The aim now is to get it in the hands of individual customers and people can express their interest via the firm’s website.

Thrun said securing public acceptance for the Flyer is the company’s biggest priority. “The number one most important thing other than safety for us is societal acceptance,” he told CNN. “Will people be willing to fly on these devices, be willing to live next to these devices like this? That’s why opened this training facility in Lake Las Vegas — we’re here to learn from you, to see your reaction.”

You can read more about the first test-flight from a journalist over at CNN.

SEE ALSO: What we know about the Larry Page-backed ‘flying car’ coming later this year

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