Larry Page's autonomous air taxi 'Cora' flies in New Zealand

Flying taxi

Flying taxi

The project went by the code name Zee.Aero for a while, which Kitty Hawk said was the name of their Cora team during the development stage.

This aircraft is called "Cora" by Kitty Hawk, and has a 36-foot wingspan and 12 rotors, powered entirely by battery.

Whilst other air-taxi projects are planning on flying in congested cities such as Dallas and Dubai, in the case of UberAir, Kitty Hawk will be flying first in the relatively New Zealand. The nation's government is working with Kitty Hawk to firm up regulatory approval.

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.

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You can watch the air taxi in action on YouTube.

Dr Peter Crabtree of New Zealand's MBIE saw the opportunity immediately: "In New Zealand, we know we can't keep using the same old approaches to meet our future challenges". It can travel at around 110mph, and has a range of around 62 miles.

The company has been pitching the air taxi privately since 2016, finally choosing New Zealand as its R&D and certification location as well as its launch market due to the country's large support of renewable energy and electric vehicles as well as its accommodating airspace regulations.

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. As the New York Times explains, today the company will join with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to announce an agreement to test the vehicles there. That's why Cora can take off and land like a helicopter, eliminating the need for runways.

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