- Sergey Brin is the president of Google's parent Alphabet Inc
- He began his plans to build the vessel 3 years ago, reports Bloomberg
- He has backed two flying-car start-ups, Kitty Hawk and Zee.Aero
The project is the latest example of Silicon Valley attempting to reshape how goods and people are moved. But some say it also underscores a penchant for tech moguls to color their projects with seemingly virtuous ambition.
Some people on social media seized on the vessel's apparent dual purpose. On the one hand, it's a benevolent carrier transporting food to remote, hard-pressed communities, and on the other it's a luxurious "air yacht," as the Guardian report described it, shuttling a billionaire and his inner circle to exotic locations.
Google declined to comment.
The vessel is reportedly being built at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. When completed, the airship will become the world's largest aircraft at about 650 feet long, although its payload is not known, according to the Guardian. Plans for the vessel, which is being funded by Brin, were first reported by Bloomberg earlier this year.
Experts say that the use of airships could bypass the congestion and costs tied to transporting cargo via roads, railways and airports. But lighter-than-air travel presents its own challenges, like the need to steady the aircraft by offsetting the weight of cargo once it's offloaded. According to the Guardian, Brin's vessel will use a series of internal bladders to stabilize its flight.
Silicon Valley's novel charitable efforts have been criticized in the past, perhaps most prominently in the case of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's internet.org initiative, which aims to bring Internet access to the billions of people who don't have it. With altruistic motives but lucrative business prospects, some see Zuckerberg's initiative less as a magnanimous Internet project than as a version of high-tech imperialism.
It's unclear whether Brin's airship will be put to commercial use. But Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet and the other co-founder of Google, has also taken a keen interest in innovative aircraft. Page has personally backed two flying-car start-ups, Kitty Hawk and Zee.Aero. Kitty Hawk's flyer, a personal electric aircraft that hovers over water, will be available for purchase later this year.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)