Larry Page tested a flying taxi this week in New Zealand. It was developed by California-based Kitty Hawk, a company financed by the Google co-founder himself. It was understood that the autonomous flying car was being developed in secrecy since 2012 in a location near Google’s headquarters in Mountain View.
It would be recalled that Page invested in two flying car start-ups in 2016. In 2017, Kitty Hawk released a video of a prototype all-electric aircraft.
On March 12, that prototype finally has a name.
The flying vehicle was called Cora and was designed to carry two passengers, travelling around 110mph in a range of around 62 miles. It was crafted to fly between 500 and 3,000 feet above the ground. It has 11-metre wingspan, could operate a single propeller, and all-electric.
Kitty Hawk said it aims for the flying taxi to be part of people’s daily commute. Ultimately, Cora shall take off and land like a helicopter, eliminating the need for runways, the company explained in its website. In due course, Cora will just take off from everywhere else in the neighbourhood, the company said.
Kitty Hawk also explained its decision to have Cora’s first flight test in New Zealand, saying that the country had a world class reputation in aviation certification and regulation. Particularly, New Zealand’s Central Aviation has earned the respect of the worldwide regulatory community, Kitty Hawk stated.
On the other hand, Dr Peter Crabtree of New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment explained that New Zealand saw Cora’s potential as a sustainable, efficient, and transformative technology. He expressed hopes that New Zealand could serve as Cora’s springboard to the rest of the world in the near future.
Meanwhile, Cora joined the race to the first autonomous flying car for commercial use. In February, Airbus and the Vahana team announced that they successfully flight-tested their full-scale aircraft called the Alpha One. It reached a height of 5 meters and remained in the air for 53 seconds.
In November 2017, Uber signed a deal with NASA. It involved developing traffic systems for Uber’s flying car project, the Uber Elevate, which is planned for testing by 2020. In September 2017, Dubai tested a drone taxi developed by German drone firm Voloveptor.