Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Meet Cora, the air taxi funded by Google co-founder Larry Page

Watch: Self-piloted flying taxi being tested in Christchurch Christchurch testing ground for world's first self-piloted electric air taxi
Glenn Montgomery | 14 March, 2018, 00:41

The secretive company, financed by Google co-founder Larry Page, has finally broken cover.

Negotiations between Kitty Hawk and the New Zealand government have been going on for about 18 months, with multiple government agencies pledging to "streamline" the process of approval for a flying-taxi trial, according to Stuff. That means it can take off like a helicopter but fly like a plane.

Google co-founder Larry Page and now the chief executive of Google's parent Alphabet is financing a company, Kitty Hawk, run by Sebastian Thrun, who helped start Google's autonomous auto unit as the director of GoogleX. Once it's in the air, all those propellers provide more traditionally plane-like forward thrust. Small and effective, the Cora features a range of around 62 miles on a single charge.

It is expected that a commercial network of flying taxis will be in operation in New Zealand in as soon as three years. The cabin will seat two passengers. However, it's still far from ready to start offering customers rides via flying taxis.

Due to its relative isolation from other nations and long stretches of uninhabited land, New Zealand is the ideal testing ground for Kitty Hawk to prove its tech works without getting in the way of commercial planes or endangering people on the ground.

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.

"Zephyr Airworks' presence in New Zealand will build capability in our own science system - partially in areas like software engineering, Artificial Intelligence, robotics, composite material, and aviation design", she said. But New Zealand has a more careful, conservative approach to it, which could help other countries get on board if everything else proves feasible. Uber has been hard at work on a similar VTOL solution for the last couple years, and it hopes to have something concrete within a decade.

Hell, even Porsche is down with the idea of a flying vehicle. First it hosted Hobbiton, and now it'll serve as the first major testing ground for a professional flying auto company.

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