Google cofounder's flying taxi takes to the skies in New Zealand

New Zealand based aviation company Zephyr Airworks shows a

Kitty Hawk has been keeping its efforts in New Zealand under wraps by operating its autonomous planes in testing there under the name 'Zephyr Airworks, ' and by doing the work on this passenger plane under the code name "Zee Aero", which is the name of what some had suspected was a separate company backed by Page and led by former airline executive Fred Reid.

Google co-founder Larry Page's aviation start-up has unveiled its first project - new air-taxi prototype named Cora. 12 independent lift fans power the taxi so it can take off and land much like a helicopter, and doesn't require a runway.

Kitty Hawk, the flying vehicle startup financially backed by Google cofounder Larry Page, has been quietly testing flying taxis in New Zealand.

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".


You can watch the air taxi in action on YouTube. With a 36-foot wingspan, the aircraft flies between 500 and 3,000 feet above the ground at around 110 miles per hour. They've found a collaborator in New Zealand; prime minister Jacinda Ardern told The New York Times, "We've got an ambitious target in New Zealand of being net carbon zero by 2050...exciting projects like this are part of how we make that happen".

Kitty Hawk previously revealed its "Flyer" aircraft, which was more like a hovercraft crossed with a jet ski, and which it intends to sell to individuals in the recreational vehicle market.

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.

Flight tests soon followed under an experimental airworthiness certificate from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority and the United States Federal Aviation Administration. Bonus points: The Kitty Hawk taxis will be autonomous.

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