Kitty Hawk had just shown off a prototype of the Flyer, a single-seat, battery-powered aircraft intended to be a low-altitude fun machine for use over water, like a jet ski on rotors, with handling that would make flying as easy as driving. Operation of ultralights is restricted—they can’t be flown over populated areas or at night—but ensuring the aircraft is safe is left up to the maker. Sebastian Thrun speaks at TechCrunch Disrupt with a canine guest in 2017 in San Francisco. The original vision was to produce a literal flying car, with folding wings so it could fit inside a home garage, but that was quickly abandoned as impractical, and Zee went on to try other designs, including one registered with FAA under the name “Mutt” because of its marriage of new elements with an older configuration. Former Kitty Hawk employees said that around the time the Boeing partnership was announced, access to the Cora building, which had contained a cafeteria and reception area shared by all, was abruptly restricted to workers only on that program, and IT, HR and other back-office workers were divided between Cora and Kitty Hawk. The company has shelved the idea of marketing Flyer as a recreational device and is exploring commercial options, perhaps running it as a kind of aerial ferry. The company believes that when everyone has access to personal flight, a new, limitless world of opportunity will open up to them. “The technology is one thing, but 80% of the effort is in productizing and building an aircraft that can be certified,” said Lawson. At Kitty Hawk, Damon is general manager of Heaviside, where he leads a team in developing and building the first quiet eVTOL vehicle of its kind. Damon Vander Lind is a start-up founder, aircraft designer, and engineer with a passion for building highly efficient flying vehicles. Kitty Hawk did not respond to questions about Flyer’s reliability. Sebastian Thrun is a scientist, educator, inventor, and entrepreneur. His LinkedIn profile states he’s head of a stealth mode startup. Michael received an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Riverside and a master’s degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Sebastian Thrun is a scientist, educator, inventor, and entrepreneur. Flyer president Alex Roetter and Kitty Hawk CEO Sebastian Thrun said the organization will now turn its efforts on a previously secret all-electric aircraft, the Heaviside. Ask serial entrepreneur and inventor Sebastian Thrun and the answer you'd get is, “more disruption.” As the CEO of Kitty Hawk, a company with the bold vision of bringing flying cars to consumers, Thrun is imaging a future where autonomous cars have been replaced by personal autonomous planes. Sebastian is the CEO of Kitty Hawk, whose vision is to free people from traffic. “I’m excited that one day very soon I’ll be able to climb onto my Kitty Hawk Flyer for a quick and easy personal flight,” Page said at the time. Heaviside is our most powerful, fastest and quietest vehicle yet, bringing us even closer to our goal of freeing the world from traffic. He is also the founder, chairman, and president of Udacity, whose mission is to democratize education. At the same time, the company may have given up control of Cora, sources suggest. Eventually Zee decided the plane should be developed into a pilotless air taxi, now dubbed Cora. Intent on bringing Flyer to market quickly, management in several instances brushed off workers who expressed worries that problems with the aircraft could endanger passengers, two former employees said. There is one thing that could seriously delay Thrun's Jetson style flying cars, and that's safety. Two Boeing executives and Wisk’s CEO, who previously worked for Boeing, hold three seats on the five-member board.). Since our journey began, we have tested 100+ eVTOL prototypes, and there’s no end in sight. Makani was acquired by x and became a part of Alphabet. Sebastian Thrun is among the most prolific entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Several said they believe Boeing is now in control of Cora. With flight time maxing out at 20 minutes due to battery limitations, Kitty Hawk initially intended ... [+] Flyer for quick thrills, but the company has pivoted to an idea to trial using it in a transportation service. Our world-class team contributes decades of expertise in commercial aviation, aerospace, automotive engineering, advanced manufacturing, flight test, industrial design, customer experience, and regulatory compliance. Additionally, a unique provision of the regulations permits “adventure flights” by aircraft that don’t have standard safety certifications, such as vintage warbirds, which could allow Kitty Hawk to launch a revenue-generating passenger service before Cora is fully certified, said James Lawson, an aerospace safety consultant who previously consulted with Kitty Hawk on Cora when the company was considering pursuing certification in the U.S. Cora is hand-built, largely of custom components made in-house, and still at the stage of proving out its technology, former employees on that program said. “The term thrown around was we were the cowboys of Kitty Hawk; we were doing crazy stuff,” said one. You can learn more about our use of cookies and data collection, including opt-out information, by reading our privacy policy, found here. Udacity is for online learning, offering nano-degrees (short courses) in areas including drones and machine learning; Kitty Hawk Corp is making electric planes and flying cars while AI powered Cresta.ai is trying to automate repetitive jobs. Damon completed his undergraduate work from MIT in Physics and Computer Science/Electrical Engineering, and holds a pilot’s license, which he utilizes along with his bike for his daily commute. Boeing might be the one to see it through. Kitty Hawk confirmed to Forbes that, after unveiling a more polished version of Flyer last year, it has decided not to sell the one-seater to individuals and has returned deposits to would-be buyers. She received her law degree from the University of Chicago Law School with high honors, and completed her undergraduate work in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University. Flyer for quick thrills, but the company has pivoted to an idea to trial using it in a transportation service. “No person has ever been harmed or exposed due to undue risk in over 26,000 test flights with over 100 prototype vehicles,” wrote Shernaz Daver, an advisor to Kitty Hawk, in an email response to a list of questions sent by Forbes. Prior to Kitty Hawk, Molly was at Wachtell Lipton in New York, where she practiced corporate litigation and handled internal investigations for a variety of Fortune 50 clients, including J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs and the NBA. The company was founded 2010. Eventually Kitty Hawk, which went on to absorb Zee.Aero, embarked on a mission to be the first to get an electric passenger aircraft to market that could take off and land vertically. The focus has been on improving reliability rather than iterating on the design, and on finding a use for the vehicles. I help direct our coverage of autos, energy and manufacturing, and write about aerospace and defense. We are proud to partner with public and private organizations who share our vision for a traffic-free future. Sebastian Thrun is CEO of Kitty Hawk, founder and Chairman of Udacity and Cresta, a former Google Fellow and VP, and an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University. Last year, the Mountain View Fire Department was called to put out an early morning blaze at the Flyer building, city records show; former employees said the fire at the Google-owned building involved damaged batteries that had been pulled out of a Flyer that had crashed the previous day in flight testing under remote operation. Michael Huerta served as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from 2013 to 2018. At Kitty Hawk, they engineer, design, and build safe, fun, easy-to-fly aircraft. As a serial founder whose ventures include Google X, education trailblazer Udacity, and transportation company Kitty Hawk, he is an enormously big thinker whose natural curiosity leads him to … By continuing to use our Services, you are consenting to our use of cookies and our data collection. “It was a pattern—if you talked about safety, you were done, so you just didn’t,” said one former employee. Daver did not respond directly to questions about employee departures, but said workers at Kitty Hawk are required to report safety-related issues to their managers, or through a confidential digital channel directly to the general counsel and human resources, and can anonymously discuss safety concerns with an external safety director.