There’s no doubt that Google is a forward-thinking technology company, but one of its cofounders is forging his own path when it comes to the future of transportation.
The roughly 150-person company was created in 2010, with Page reportedly spending $100 million on it since its inception. Complete with a manufacturing facility at NASA’s Ames Research Center, the company tests its prototypes at an airport located in Hollister, Calif.
Some airport employees reported seeing two of Zee.Aero’s crafts in action. “One of the prototypes looks like a small conventional plane; the other has spots for small propellers along the main body, three per side,” according to Bloomberg.
In 2013, Gizmag reported on a few of the patent filings registered to Zee.Aero. The concept flying car uses electric motors and four-bladed propellers to achieve vertical liftoff and landing, with wings mounted on the front and towards the back of the vehicle in a canard-like design. It was created small enough to fit in a parking space.
However, Zee.Aero isn’t the only company Page is funding that’s exploring the realm of flying cars. According to Bloomberg, Page, last year, started funding Kitty Hawk, a company located a mere half-mile away from Zee.Aero’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
Rather than working in tandem, the two companies are working on competing designs. Kitty Hawk is working on “a giant version of a quadcopter,” according to Bloomberg. “It’s common for the Zee.Aero engineers to speculate over lunch about what their Kitty Hawk counterparts are up to. The former Zee.Aero employees think Page wanted to see if a smaller team could move faster, and the added pressure on Zee.Aero didn’t hurt.”
There’s enough news about flying cars to make it seem like the technology might hit the market some time in the 21st century. Terrafugia, another flying car company, said it believes its four-seat, hybrid electric, semi-autonomous vehicle will enter production some eight to 12 years from now.
Factor in regulatory hurdles, however, and there’s still a ways to go.