(CNBC)– Flying cars could be in the air within five years, the chief executive of Kitty Hawk, a company backed by Alphabet CEO Larry Page, told CNBC on Monday.
Sebastian Thrun added that an announcement is due in March about the next stages of the project.
Thrun was one of the founders of Google X, the search giant’s moonshot lab, and also a pioneer of the company’s driverless car project. He is now the chairman of an online education firm called Udacity and the CEO of flying car firm Kitty Hawk.
Kitty Hawk unveiled a demonstration video of its flying car in 2017. Thrun said Monday that the company is gearing up for an announcement next month.
When asked when the next version of the flying car will be ready, he said Kitty Hawk is “very very close.”
“We are going to have a big announcement coming forward in March,” Thrun told CNBC in an interview on Monday at the World Government Summit in Dubai.
“The reality is if you look at transportation as a whole, most of it stays on the ground. And the ground is very capacity limited… when you go in the air, the air is mostly free. And you are now at a point where we can make air-based transportation, like daily transpiration, safer, faster and also more cheaper actually, environmentally friendly, than on the ground.”
Thrun described a situation in which people are able to hail flying cars via a smartphone app. He added that it’s unlikely people will actually own a vehicle, describing ownership as “antiquated,” and that people will share flying cars, much like Uber and Lyft with ground vehicles.
Thrun said the project is in the early stages at the moment, but given the rapid pace of technological development, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that flying cars could be in the air in five years.
“We are at the science phase,” he said. “However, given that society moves really fast, I wouldn’t see why within five years’ time we wouldn’t be able to take a city like Dubai and really give them (a) massive system for people to use flying cars every day.”