A partner at Alphabet's venture capital arm says 'flying cars' are starting to look inevitable

  • Joe Kraus, a partner with Alphabet's venture capital arm, GV, says that flying cars are starting to seem inevitable instead of impossible.
  • He believes that it's likely that people will be flying around in autonomous vehicles before they're driving around in them.
  • He adds that he doesn't know exactly when GV will invest in flying cars, but that the team is looking closely at the space.
Joe Kraus, General Partner at GV.
Source: GV
Joe Kraus, General Partner at GV.

Flying cars are reaching the tipping point where they seem inevitable instead of impossible, Joe Kraus, a partner at Alphabet's venture capital arm GV said on stage during the Startup Grind conference in Silicon Valley this week.

Kraus said that for revolutionary product ideas there's a fine line between something being impossible and "barely possible," and that flying cars have broken into the latter category thanks to innovations in the likes of battery density, propulsion systems and sense-and-avoid technology.

"When people believe something is possible, a massive amount of investment flows into a space," he said. "People who are incredibly smart start innovating and working on it. It starts off usually as a small group of people with a religious fervor willing a space into existence and then it boils over into a moment where someone credible makes you think that this goes from impossible to inevitable, and then a whole ecosystem springs up. And we're gonna see that with these electric vertical take-off and landing craft."

Vertical takeoff or landing (VTOL) craft is the clunky but more accurate way to describe this kind of futuristic vehicle, though Kraus says he prefers the more colloquial "flying cars."

He quotes Sebastian Thrun, the founder of Alphabet's X innovation lab and the current CEO of flying car company Kitty Hawk, as saying that people are likely to be flying around in autonomous vehicles before they're driving around in them.

"I think that's likely true," Kraus says.

For him, it isn't a question of if GV will invest, but when.

"I can't predict when we'll make the leap, but we've looked at a lot of this space," he says.

He also name-checked several flying-car startups, including Lilium, eHang, and Joby Aviation, which just raised $100 million. Meanwhile, Alphabet CEO Larry Page is personally involved in two flying-car startups: Zee Aero and the aforementioned Kitty Hawk, which Thrun recently told CNBC is "very very close" to revealing the next version of its flying car.

Kraus says he's passionate about this revolution in the way we get around.

"I'm incredibly excited because I think that there's going to be a radical transformation in the ease that we can get from Point A to Point B and the speed in which we can get there."