Self-Flying Air Taxi Tested in New Zealand

Self-Flying Air Taxi Tested in New Zealand

After operating in the Kiwi shadows, Kitty Hawk has finally made its existence public.

Self-piloted flying taxis are being tested in New Zealand as part of a project backed by Google co-founder Larry Page that supporters say will revolutionise personal transport.

"The dreamers from California met the visionaries from New Zealand", Kitty Hawk said in a press release that lauds New Zealand for having "a government and society with an eye to the horizon".

Kitty Hawk, which has so far only demonstrated its piloted recreational hovercraft (a luxury item created to help it spur development of its autonomous air taxis) has been testing its autonomous electric passenger aircraft, which resembles a small plane with variable rotors that can go from a vertical alignment for take-off and landing, to a horizontal one for flying like an ordinary plane through the skies. Once it's in the air, all those propellers provide more traditionally plane-like forward thrust.

Cora is capable of traveling at up to 110mph (180km/s) with a range of 62 miles (100km) carrying two passengers.

Now, it would seem that Cora and the company behind it are nearly ready for prime time, as Kitty Hawk and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced that an agreement has been reached that will see Kitty Hawk's portfolio officially tested for certification.

Testing of a self-piloted air taxi is taking place in Canterbury, with the hope the flying service could soon take to the skies. New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, in an email to The New York Times, explained that her country wants to become "net carbon zero" by 2050, and the Cora can help make that happen.

The next phase of prototype testing is being carried out in New Zealand.

Several other companies, including Uber and Airbus, are also racing to commercialize flying taxis. Intel had a wild one at CES this year, too.

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