Self-Flying Air Taxi Tested in New Zealand

Self-Flying Air Taxi Tested in New Zealand”

The flying vehicle company led by Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun and backed by Google co-founder Larry Page is breaking cover with a new deal that will see it test its autonomous electric air taxis with the New Zealand government, with the aim of having a commercial network ready to carry passengers within as little as three years, the New York Times reports.

Kitty Hawk, the company led by the "godfather of self-driving cars" Sebastian Thrun and backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, has revealed its Cora aircraft, which is a hybrid vertical take-off and landing design that can take off like a helicopter but fly like a plane. It can go 60 miles on a charge, at heights of up to 3,000 feet and speeds of 110 miles per hour. Just as importantly, it's quiet during flight. Therefore, Cora has no need for a runway.

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

The company Kitty Hawk, which operates as Zephyr Airworks in New Zealand, showed off the self-piloted electric aircraft, which looks like a cross between an aeroplane and a drone.

Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern confirmed the news to the Times, saying the project is "about sending the message to the world that our doors are open for people with great ideas who want to turn them into reality".

Testing of a self-piloted air taxi is taking place in Canterbury, with the hope the flying service could soon take to the skies. Of course, Kitty Hawk isn't the only company working on "air taxi" concepts, but others like EHang and Uber Elevate aren't in operation yet either.

"Zephyr Airworks came here because of the ease of doing business in New Zealand, our safety-focused regulatory environment, our culture of ingenuity and our vision for clean technologies and future transport alternatives".

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