Billionaire Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk Is Making An All-In Bet On Robot Air Taxis. Its Program Head Is Out In Disagreement Over It.

The current version of Heaviside appears to have impressive energy efficiency indeed: in a paper that has yet to be published, Carnegie Mellon engineering professor Venkat Viswanathan and his graduate student Shashank Sripad estimate that the aircraft is more efficient than an electric car with one occupant at ranges greater than 20 miles, and significantly better than the aircraft Joby and Beta are test-flying, as well as proposed designs from Germany’s Lilium and the Bay Area startup Archer Aviation, based on current battery technology.

If Kitty Hawk succeeds in convincing regulators to allow its planned aircraft to operate without pilots in the cockpit, it could have a substantial cost advantage over competitors. Piloted urban air taxis could have double the costs of autonomous ones, McKinsey consultants Uri Pelli and Robin Riedel estimated in a paper last year.