EVTOL (Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) is a type of aircraft that uses electricity to hover, land, and take off vertically. A US-based company, Kitty Hawk, has been developing passenger EVTOL drones since 2010. This fascinating technology has been in the works for over a decade and the company claims that people can ride their EVTOL drones as early as 2025. EVTOL passenger drones are a promising technology of the future. The question is, how far has Kitty Hawk come towards making it a reality? Let’s take a look at the company and the work it has done.
All About Kitty Hawk
Kitty Hawk is an American aircraft company founded in 2010 by Google founder Larry Page. The company first launched its product called the Flyer. It was introduced on June 6th, 2018, and required no license to fly. The company has received funding of $1million from its last two seed investing rounds. Kitty Hawk’s drones are undergoing several testing phases before they can be cleared to fly in civilian airspace.
Kitty Hawk Flyer
The Kitty Hawk Flyer was the company’s first passenger drone. Cameron Robertson and Todd Reicher engineered the drone and launched on June 6th 2018. It didn’t require a license to fly because it was built under the Part 103 ultralight weight regulations. However, the Flyer project was stopped in Match 2020.
- Wingspan: 13ft
- Max. Takeoff Weight: 450 lb (204 kg)
- Max. Speed: 26 kn (30 mph, 48 km/h)
- Max Endurance: 20 minutes
- Max. Range: 9.7 km
Kitty Hawk Cora
Cora is Kitty Hawk’s autonomous EVTOL two-passenger drone that has already completed over 1000 test flights. Cora was launched in 2017. Later in 2019, Cora was established as Wisk, a joint venture between The Boeing Company and Kitty Hawk. In 2020, Wisk partnered with NASA to develop key guidelines for Urban Air Mobility Operations. Cora also established the world’s first certification basis for passenger-carrying, self-piloting drones.
- Wingspan: 36ft
- Max. Payload: 400 lb (181 kg)
- Cruising Speed: 110 mph (180 km/h)
- Max Endurance: 19 minutes with a 10-minute reserve
- Max. Range: 100 km
Kitty Hawk Heaviside
Heavyside was launched by Kitty Hawk in 2019. It is the company’s latest and most advanced EVTOL single-passenger drone yet. It is extremely light, small, and more importantly quiet. The drone was named after English engineer Oliver Heaviside. The drone has been tested for hundreds of flights. It has a good amount of flight range and flies unnoticeably. Kitty Hawk stated that Heaviside flies at a noise level of 35 dBA at 1500 AGL. That is reportedly 100x quieter than a helicopter. Learn more about Heaviside here.
- Wingspan: 20ft
- Max. Payload: 496 lb (225 kg)
- Max. Speed: 180 mph (289.6 km/h)
- Max. Range: 100 miles (160.9 km)
Kitty Hawk still has a long way to go in terms of the practical availability of its EVTOL passenger drones. The company is rigorously testing its drones. It has been testing its EVTOL drones in New Zealand, as well as the US. If approved by the FAA, Kitty Hawk could revolutionize urban air mobility.