Kitty Hawk’s latest entry into the incipient urban mobility market is missing something important and it might be its biggest selling point. The new Heaviside (named for Oliver Heaviside, a controversial early 20th century physicist and electrical engineer) is virtually silent in flight with a noise level of about 38 decibels at 1,500 feet. Helicopters are typically at about 60 decibels at that altitude. Kitty Hawk, which is funded by Google’s Larry Page, has so far only flown the Heaviside remotely but it seems capable.
The electric VTOL has eight tilting motors, three on each wing and one on each canard, and can take off and land vertically and hover. The motors are also part of the flight control system and help control all three axes by varying speed and angle. The wing is forward swept and mounted high on the fuselage. Speculation among tech gurus is that this design is possibly the basis for Kitty Hawk’s urban mobility vehicle and the release of a video suggests the program is relatively mature.