Google-connected company, Zee.Aero, designing electric flying cars

A patent for a Personal Aircraft was discovered, to have been applied for from Zee.Aero (website http://zee.aero/). (all patents from Zee.Aero)

A safe, quiet, easy to control, efficient, and compact aircraft configuration is enabled through the combination of multiple vertical lift rotors, tandem wings, and forward thrust propellers. The vertical lift rotors, in combination with a front and rear wing, permits a balancing of the center of lift with the center of gravity for both vertical and horizontal flight. This wing and multiple rotor system has the ability to tolerate a relatively large variation of the payload weight for hover, transition, or cruise flight while also providing vertical thrust redundancy. The propulsion system uses multiple lift rotors and forward thrust propellers of a small enough size to be shielded from potential blade strike and provide increased perceived and real safety to the passengers. Using multiple independent rotors provides redundancy and the elimination of single point failure modes that can make the vehicle non-operable in flight.

This is the vehicle. According to the patent it is a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft which gives it the advantage of a short runway, or no runway at all. It means the vehicle has to provide both vertical and horizontal thrust, the first for takeoff and landing, the second for flight.

The picture shows multiple thrust rotors which the patent says provides redundancy.

The patent also makes it clear this design can be implemented multiple ways.

Google air car - Zee.aero

Google Air Car - Zee.aero

These give an idea of the size we’re talking about – namely, equivalent to a large SUV, that flies.

This stealth company nestled against (inside?) Google is building flying cars – November 20, 2013 – The San Francisco Chronicle broke the story of Zee.Aero and their plans.

The Chronicle says there are rumors that Google is involved, but it’s not clear how. The company is located along Shoreline Blvd near Shoreline Lake, putting them within literal spitting distance of Google’s offices. Google has plenty of transportation-related projects in the pipeline such as driverless cars.

They have several job openings, three of which involve composites fabrication and design. Hence, we can conclude their design uses composite materials – a frequent choice in aircraft.

The vehicle is also to be electric – and there are two job openings currently for mechanical engineers to work on battery pack design.

Zee.Aero has over 50 employees, making them a fairly sizeable start-up, most of whom are in Engineering roles.

Zee.Aero was founded in 2010, according to Delaware corporation records, and Ilan Kroo, a noted professor of aeronautics, has been on partial leave from Stanford since 2011 to run the company.

What Is This Bizarre-Looking Flying Machine Doing Near Google HQ? – Has some stealth pictures of the device

Google air car - Zee.aero

Google air car - Zee.aero

Ilan Kroo @ Stanford Univ

Ilan Kroo is a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University. He received his B.S. degree in Physics from Stanford in 1978, then continued studies at Stanford in Aeronautics, leading to a Ph.D. degree in 1983. He worked in the Advanced Aerodynamic Concepts Branch at NASA’s Ames Research Center for four years before returning to Stanford as a member of the Aero/Astro faculty. Prof. Kroo’s research in aerodynamics and multidisciplinary design optimization includes the study of innovative airplane concepts. He has participated in the design of UAV’s, flying pterosaur replicas, Americas’ Cup sailboats, and high-speed research aircraft. In addition to his research and teaching interests, Prof. Kroo is founded Desktop Aeronautics, Inc. and is an advanced cross-country hang glider pilot. In 2011 Ilan took a leave of absence to start Zee.Aero, a bay area start-up company focusing on bringing new technologies to civil aviation. He remains a member of the Stanford faculty, but currently as Professor (research) at 20%.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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