Kitty Hawk Unveils Its Cora Flying Taxi


Supporters of the project say the autonomous flying taxi, dubbed Cora, will revolutionise personal transport.

On March 13, it is set to announce an agreement with the prime minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern. The 36-foot aircraft is called Cora and has 12 battery-powered rotors, with the ability to carry two passengers some 62 miles.

A number of start-ups and Silicon Valley giants have at least toyed with the idea of building and operating a fleet of autonomous, electric flying taxis, but so far it has remained largely on the drawing board.

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.

"Cora", developed by Larry Page's Kitty Hawk company, is an electric aircraft intended for use as part of a transportation service instead of sale to individual users. Kitty Hawk said it will continue to work with New Zealand's CAA to gain the certifications necessary for a commercial air taxi service.

According to Kitty Hawk, the Cora has a range of about 60 miles (100 kilometers) on one charge, can travel up to 110 mph (180 km/h), and has an operational altitude between 500 and 3,000 feet (150 to 910 meters).

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

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Dubbed "Cora", the vehicle can "take off like a helicopter and transition to flying like a plane", Kitty Hawk said in a statement on Monday.

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 vehicle unit as the director of GoogleX.

Federal Aviation Administration rules would have made it hard to get a project like this off the ground in the United States.

Other countries, mostly in the Middle East and Africa, have been more aggressive about allowing unmanned flights and appear willing to be some of the first places where this technology will be used.

Perhaps most impressive? Cora is a VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) machine. In November, Boeing acquired Aurora Flight Sciences.

It is expected that a commercial network of flying taxis will be in operation in New Zealand in as soon as three years.

The vehicle, has been under development for eight years, and it can take off and land vertically, much like a helicopter.