Self-Flying Air Taxi Tested in New Zealand

Cora can carry two passengers

Cora can carry two passengers. Supplied

Kitty Hawk has been keeping its efforts in New Zealand under wraps by operating its autonomous planes in testing there under the name 'Zephyr Airworks, ' and by doing the work on this passenger plane under the code name "Zee Aero", which is the name of what some had suspected was a separate company backed by Page and led by former airline executive Fred Reid.

"This is a fully electric aircraft that rises into the air like a helicopter, flies like a plane and then lands again like a helicopter", she explained.

Testing of a self-piloted air taxi is taking place in Canterbury, with the hope the flying service could soon take to the skies. And now Kitty Hawk has officially launched the Cora project, and begun the journey to commercialization. Like Uber, but for "The Jetsons".

Cora is also self-piloting, can fly faster than 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour) and has a range of 100 kilometers (62 miles), according to the company. It has an 11-metre wingspan and operates a single propeller.

Mr Page's wholly owned aviation firm Kitty Hawk - named after the Wright brothers' home town in North Carolina - has unveiled an air-taxi prototype eight-years in the making.

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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.

"Designing an air taxi for everyday life means bringing the airport to you".

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". That's why Cora can take off and land like a helicopter, eliminating the need for runways.

I've spoken to Thrun about the potential of flying "cars" in the past, and the former Google self-driving auto project pioneer is extremely bullish on the idea.

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