Boeing Announces Work with Flying Taxi Startup Kitty Hawk, But Don't Call It a Flying Car

By Matt Novak on at

Boeing has announced that it’s working with the flying taxi startup Kitty Hawk, to “collaborate on future efforts to advance safe urban air mobility.” The announcement of the so-called strategic partnership is pretty light on details, but it’s an optimistic sign for futuristic consumer-facing aviation technologies.

Kitty Hawk has developed the Cora, an autonomous and fully electric flying taxi that has reportedly performed well over the past year during tests in New Zealand. The Cora reportedly flies at speeds of roughly 110 miles per hour at altitudes anywhere from 500 to 3,000 feet. But it’s not ready for the paying public. At least not yet.

“Working with a company like Kitty Hawk brings us closer to our goal of safely advancing the future of mobility,” Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing NeXt, said in a statement posted online. “We have a shared vision of how people, goods and ideas will be transported in the future, as well as the safety and regulatory ecosystem that will underpin that transportation.”

Sebastian Thrun, one of the minds behind Google X, is the founder and CEO of Kitty Hawk and has a history of developing exciting new technologies, from robots at various DARPA challenges to spearheading Google’s self-driving car efforts. In short, he’s a guy that you don’t want to bet against.

“Kitty Hawk was started to advance technology in flight and bring new innovations to life,” said Thrun. “I am excited about our companies working together to accelerate making safe electric flight a reality.”

Paleofuture is about as skeptical as it comes when we hear about flying cars and flying taxis, autonomous or otherwise. And while we don’t have many details (or any real information at all about what this new partnership is about) it’s a very good sign for technology when companies like Boeing are taking them seriously. This announcement should definitely be taken seriously.

But it should be noted that Kitty Hawk isn’t working a flying car. The Cora is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) taxi. The primary use for this vehicle will be transporting people in the air, not converting from a driving vehicle to a flying vehicle.

This announcement doesn’t necessarily mean that flying taxis are just around the corner, even with all those caveats. But it’s hard not to get excited when companies like Kitty Hawk are doing the hard work with really smart people largely behind the scenes. Unlike some other companies we might mention.

Uber, we’re looking at you and your bullshit. How’s that flying taxi you promised us in 2017 was just two years away? That’s what we thought.