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Testing of world-first self-piloted air taxi in Canterbury

14 March, 2018, 01:00 | Author: Shawna Walton
  • Cora can carry two passengers

That means it can take off like a helicopter but fly like a plane.

Alphabet chief executive Larry Page has been putting his vast wealth into a number of projects, including a flying taxi start-up now testing in New Zealand.

The autonomous aircraft was shown Monday by aviation company Kitty Hawk, which has received substantial support from the Alphabet CEO and former Google co-founder.

Uber is another company that hopes to one day have its own autonomous flying taxi service.

That's a far cry from another device Kitty Hawk unveiled in April 2017, called the Flyer, which looked more like a cross between a Jet Ski and a giant, store-bought quadcopter. Kitty Hawk will set up its New Zealand operations through a local subsidiary called Zephyr Airworks. Being that the plane is fairly quiet, it could help make the idea of flying taxis more appealing, being that city residents won't have to constantly be disturbed by the loud sounds of traditional planes.

It said Cora took eight years to design but then developers needed a suitable environment to safely test the new technology.

'We saw Cora's potential as a sustainable, efficient and transformative technology that can enrich people's lives, not only in New Zealand, but ultimately the whole world'. First it hosted Hobbiton, and now it'll serve as the first major testing ground for a professional flying auto company.

A network of self-piloted, flying taxis will be trialled in New Zealand, in a partnership with the government.

Larry Page has made it clear, though, that his Mountain View-based company would like to bring its taxis to the United States and European Union, once New Zealand has shown these governments how the certification process could work. The fact sheet mentions that Cora has an experimental permit with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and New Zealand regulators, but only that the company is looking forward to sharing Cora with the New Zealand public.

It's been nearly a year since the company showed off a vehicle called Flyer, which was a much more cut-down affair that looked best designed for some new kind of aero-aquatic sport. But, if Kitty Hawk impresses the world in 2021, regulations could slowly morph into making the fliers an global reality.

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