Autonomous Flying Taxi Backed By Google Co-Founder Unveiled

Posted March 14, 2018

The airport company has been in discussions with the American company for some time now, supporting its search for a suitable test space for the autonomous air taxi, known as Cora.

Due to its relative isolation from other nations and long stretches of uninhabited land, New Zealand is the ideal testing ground for Kitty Hawk to prove its tech works without getting in the way of commercial planes or endangering people on the ground. "We had no Kitty Hawk of our own", the statement read (Kitty Hawk was the North Carolina town near which the Wright Brothers made their historic experimental flight).

Kitty Hawk's new Cora video claims the aircraft is "self-piloting" so, again, there's no need for a pilot's license. As an air taxi, Cora models wouldn't be for sale. For those unfamiliar, Kitty Hawk is a startup that is reported to have been funded by Alphabet's Larry Page.

It is expected that people would eventually use the flying vehicle called Cora, for short trips they typically take by auto, to combat the growing problem of vehicle congestion on the ground.

The flying machine is entirely electric, emission-free, and can fly at speeds in excess of 150 kph (more than 93 mph) and up to 100 kilometers (62 miles), according to the company.

The Cora already has experimental airworthiness certificates issued by both the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority, and the United States Federal Aviation Administration.

Countries in the Middle East and Africa have been more willing to allow unmanned flights. It uses 12 fans for vertical take-off and landing, and flies between 500 and 300 feet of altitude.

In November 2017, Boeing bought Aurora Flight Sciences.

Mr Reid told New Zealand media that around 30 companies worldwide were working on similar projects, including Uber who has plans to roll out air taxi services in Los Angeles, Dallas and Dubai by 2020. This means that the rules it develops may become an example for other nations, including the US.

The vehicle, has been under development for eight years, and it can take off and land vertically, much like a helicopter. Further test will take place this year and a full taxi service in the country will hopefully launch in the next three years.