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Kittyhawk, Larry Page’s flying-car company, will shut down

A urban air taxi prototype of a 2 seats, 18 rotors electric aircraft by German based company Volocopter makes a test flight during an event at the Air and Space Museum in Le Bourget, east of Paris, Monday, June 21, 2020.Michel Euler/Associated Press

Kittyhawk, the air-taxi company backed by billionaire Google co-founder Larry Page, will be closing down, dealing a setback to the long-elusive dream of developing flying cars.

“We have made the decision to wind down Kittyhawk,” the company said on Twitter Wednesday. “We’re still working on the details of what’s next.”

In 2019, Kittyhawk and Boeing Co. formed Wisk, a joint venture focused on aviation. Wisk is remaining operational, according to two people familiar with the decision.

Kittyhawk was founded in 2010 to pioneer the market for so-called eVTOLs — electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft — with the lofty goal of democratizing the skies. The secretive company was run by Sebastian Thrun, a Google veteran who worked on self-driving cars, augmented-reality glasses and other projects.

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The business was one of several startups working on the concept, which has proven to be a greater challenge than some expected. Air taxis have suffered crashes during testing in recent months, raising concerns about their safety.

Insider previously reported on Kittyhawk’s plans to close.

Kittyhawk’s goal was to make an air taxi that could be remotely piloted, was smaller and lighter than other eVTOLs, and could take off from nearly anywhere. The company was targeting a cost of less than $1 a mile, which would have made the taxis cheaper than ride-sharing services.

Now Kittyhawk’s failure threatens to cast a pall on the rest of the eVTOL industry. As of Wednesday, the company still had this message on its home page: “If anyone can do this, we can.”