Self-Flying Air Taxi Tested in New Zealand

Self-Flying Air Taxi Tested in New Zealand

The Cora finds Kitty Hawk's vision coming to life.

Kitty Hawk, the same group of California dreamers who introduced the leisure-focused Flyer past year, has revealed an all-electric, self-piloted air taxi in New Zealand. Kitty Hawk and other companies now pursuing autonomous electric taxi services still face significant regulatory hurdles in the USA before the unique business models can become a reality.

Reports surfaced in 2016 that Google co-founder (and now Alphabet CEO) Larry Page had two "flying car" projects in the works, and while we saw the Flyer recreational vehicle unveiled past year, today it's time to meet Cora.

Kitty Hawk, the flying auto startup financially backed by Google cofounder Larry Page, has been quietly testing flying taxis in New Zealand.

"Let's not forget this part of the world is where Richard Pearse first pioneered flying, something we honour with a sculpture within our airport terminal, so it's great to see this bold thinking being revealed here too", he says.

You can watch the air taxi in action on YouTube.

Once it's in the air, a single propeller drives Cora at about 110 miles per hour, between altitudes of 500 and 3,000 feet.

Range: Initially about 62 miles / about 100 kilometres.

"We are offering a pollution free, emissions free vehicle that flies independently", Fred Reid, head of Kitty Hawk operations in New Zealand, said in a video posted on the company's website. That's why Cora can take off and land like a helicopter, eliminating the need for runways. A human test pilot took control of the proof of concept flyer last August and, after reaching agreements for the development and testing of the project with the government of New Zealand in October 2017, the first self-flying air taxi was shipped over.

I've spoken to Thrun about the potential of flying "cars" in the past, and the former Google self-driving vehicle project pioneer is extremely bullish on the idea.