Google co-founder tests autonomous flying taxis in New Zealand

Flying taxi

Flying taxi

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a partnership with a company financed by Google co-founder Larry Page to test autonomous air taxis in the country.

The self-flying plane can travel at speeds up to 110 miles per hour and fly 3,000 feet off the ground, the Cora website states.

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.

When reached for additional comment Tuesday, a Kitty Hawk spokesperson would only refer this news organization to the company's fact sheet and website.

Cora appears far more robust and is designed more like a traditional aircraft, featuring an 11-metre (36-foot) wingspan, tail and a closed canopy for passengers.

Certifying the vehicle with a regulatory body will be a major undertaking, but if Kitty Hawk and Page succeed, New Zealand could lay out the blueprint for aviation regulators worldwide.

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. She added, "We've got an ambitious target in New Zealand of being net carbon zero by 2050", and given that the Kitty Hawk vehicle is fully electric, "exciting projects like this are part of how we make that happen".

A number of rival companies have been laying the groundwork for air taxis. Boeing bought Aurora Flight Sciences, Airbus made an investment in Blade, and Uber is already working on the same idea with Uber Elevate. That means that the rules it develops may become a template for other nations, including the United States. Airbus made an investment two weeks ago in Blade, an aviation startup in NY.

Mr Reid, a former president of Virgin America, Lufthansa and Delta Airlines, predicted the concept of personal, self-piloted air travel would be common "10 or 20 years from now".

But developers say it is much quieter, meaning it could transport passengers in urban areas using rooftops and auto parks as landing pads. The goal is to see these design in commercial operations in as few as three years.

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