A Google co-founder is apparently on the front lines of efforts to develop a technology long predicted by futurists: the flying car.
Bloomberg reports that Larry Page, who founded the tech giant along with Sergey Brin in 1998, personally funds Zee.Aero, a secretive company that several years ago gained notoriety for its patent filings for small, vertically flying personal aircraft.
Zee.Aero operates next to Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, which fueled speculation about its affiliations with Google or its parent Alphabet Inc. Instead, 10 people familiar with company told Bloomberg that Page founded the company in 2010 and spent more than $100 million on it to date — as well as went to great lengths to keep those facts quiet.
The company reportedly employs nearly 150 people and comprises the Mountain View headquarters, a manufacturing facility at a nearby NASA complex and an airport hangar in Hollister, Calif., where two prototypes make test flights.
Page also founded a second startup called Kitty Hawk, which is working on a competing car design and is led by Sebastian Thrun, who previously helped spawn Google's innovation arm and self-driving car operations.
Those two companies evidently made the most progress toward a realistic autonomous flying car, but they're not alone. Bloomberg notes that about 12 companies worldwide, from startups to aerospace giants, are hoping to pioneer individualized flight.
NASA engineer Mark Moore told the publication that a self-flying car would, in fact, be much easier to produce than their self-driving counterparts already being tested on California roads — particularly given recent advances in materials, navigations systems and, most importantly, electric batteries.
“This is why companies looking at this area aren’t insane," Moore said.
Here's a look at the drawings related to various patents associated with this story: