Self-Flying Air Taxi Tested in New Zealand

Self-Flying Air Taxi Tested in New Zealand

The airtaxi can fly up to 110mph, and uses 12 rotor blades to take off and land vertically.

"Cora", developed by Larry Page's Kitty Hawk company, is an electric aircraft intended for use as part of a transportation service instead of sale to individual users.

Dr Peter Crabtree of New Zealand's MBIE saw the opportunity immediately: "In New Zealand, we know we can't keep using the same old approaches to meet our future challenges". The design is known as the Cora aircraft, a hybrid vertical take-off, and landing creation.

You can watch the air taxi in action on YouTube.

This time around, though, Kitty Hawk's ambitions are bigger. Like Uber, but for "The Jetsons". It has an 11-metre wingspan and operates a single propeller. It has a 62-mile range and room on board for two passengers.

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Kitty Hawk chose New Zealand as a testbed due to its "forward thinking regulatory system", according to an update on its website. 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.

The project was officially unveiled on Tuesday by Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand's prime minister, and Fred Reid, chief executive of Zephyr Airworks.

"Cora is the beginning of a journey towards everyday flight, where air travel will be woven into our daily lives", the creators said in a statement. Therefore, Cora has no need for a runway. "Cora has the potential to transform spaces like rooftops and parking lots into places to take off right from your neighborhood".

Flight tests soon followed under an experimental airworthiness certificate from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority and the United States Federal Aviation Administration.

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

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