15 March 2018
Google founder Larry Page had reportedly funded a startup for a "flying car" project back in 2016. The Flyer recreational vehicle was unveiled last year, and today the company has unveiled Cora an "air taxi".
Developed by Page's Kitty Hawk company, the autonomous electric vehicle is intended for use as part of a transportation service and will not be sold to individual users. The air-taxi has a build in self-flying software, which uses 12 lift fans for vertical take-off and landing similar to a helicopter.
Once the taxi is in the air, a single propeller drives Cora at about 110 miles per hour. The taxi can reach altitudes between 500 to 3,000 feet. It has three independent flight-computers which can be used to navigate even if one goes down, while each rotor works independently. The plane also has a parachute for additional safety.
Kitty Hawk was reportedly unable to get the necessary permissions to test the aircraft in the US and had to take flight in New Zealand instead. The company received all the necessary permissions in New Zealand where regulators believe in the company’s electric, renewable energy mission.
‘A path to certifying an air taxi for everyday use just didn’t exist. We had our aircraft. We had our moment. But there was no place in the world where Cora could take the next step. We had no Kitty Hawk of our own,” the company stated. (Kitty Hawk was the North Carolina town near which the Wright Brothers made their historic experimental flight). “America in the early 20th century of the Wright Brothers was a hotbed of invention and discovery…We needed a place that was just as bold and dynamic in order to bring Cora to the commercial market.” “Finally, the dreamers from California met the visionaries from New Zealand,” the statement read somewhat breathlessly.
“We saw Cora’s potential as a sustainable, efficient and transformative technology that can enrich people’s lives, not only in New Zealand but ultimately the whole world,” said Peter Crabtree from the country’s business and innovation ministry.