Google co-founder's Kitty Hawk unveils is electric autonomous flying taxi

Kitty Hawk Cora flying taxi airtaxi

The prototype airtaxi Cora by Kitty Hawk Kitty Hawk

The air taxi will operate on a ride-sharing program operated by Kitty Hawk's Subsidiary Zephyr Airworks. The design is known as the Cora aircraft, a hybrid vertical take-off, and landing creation.

Helicopter-like vertical lift off comes courtesy of its 12 wing-based propellers, and the aircraft moves forward with the help of a single prop at the rear.

With Cora, Kitty Hawk's real vision comes through - the startup aims to build, own and operate a fleet of these as an on-demand self-flying taxi service, beginning commercial operations in as few as three years' time.

Cora airtaxi Kitty Hawk
The Cora airtaxi about to take off. Kitty Hawk

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.

"Cora isn't just about flying", Kitty Hawk said.

Kitty Hawk was rumoured to be pitching a "flying car" prototype as far back as 2016 - when it began pitching the concept to various governments to secure backing.

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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. We had our aircraft.

Self-flying taxis could zip through the skies of New Zealand if Kitty Hawk has anything to do about it. "But there was no place in the world where Cora could take the next step".

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's been testing the vehicles through a local operator called Zephyr Airworks, and Cora has an "experimental airworthiness certificate" from both New Zealand and USA aviation authorities.

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The New York Times reports that the firm-a project funded by Larry Page and led by Sebastian Thrun-has been trialling its Cora air taxi in New Zealand.

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