Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Finance | By Claude Patterson

Larry Page's air taxis are already flying above New Zealand

Larry Page's air taxis are already flying above New Zealand

As The New York Times reports, Kitty Hawk has been flying Cora over the South Island of New Zealand since October a year ago.

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. It's built to use self-flying software, and uses 12 lift fans for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) like a helicopter, so there's no need for a runway.

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.

Plus: The firm hopes to use the aircraft as part of a commercial network within three years, and it is building an Uber-style app through which people would be able to hail a flight. Mr Page brought in Google-X founder and self-driving vehicle expert Sebastian Thrun to act as CEO of Kitty Hawk and former Virgin America and Delta CEO Fred Reid to head up Zephyr.

Kitty Hawk is based in California, and a company called Zephyr Airworks is their operator in New Zealand. We first saw the news via The New York Times. And now Kitty Hawk has officially launched the Cora project, and begun the journey to commercialization.

"Cora is the beginning of a journey towards everyday flight, where air travel will be woven into our daily lives", the creators said in a statement. A human test pilot took control of the proof of concept flyer last August and, after reaching agreements for the development and testing of the project with the government of New Zealand in October 2017, the first self-flying air taxi was shipped over.

Kitty Hawk is led by Sebastian Thrun, a former Google scientist who worked on the company's self-driving cars and Google Glass.

Like this: