Larry Page's flying taxis might take off in New Zealand by 2021

14 March, 2018, 06:21 | Author: Colin Gill
  • Flying taxi

The company, known as Kitty Hawk and run by Sebastian Thrun, who helped start Google's autonomous auto unit as the director of Google X, has been testing a new kind of fully electric, self-piloting flying taxi.

Kitty Hawk, a Silicon Valley aviation company, revealed that it has conducted secret test flights in New Zealand under the cover of a local subsidiary, Zephyr Airworks. The two-passenger electric vehicle takes off vertically like a drone, and can then fly horizontally at speeds of up to 110 miles per hour, with a range of 62 miles. Being that the plane is fairly quiet, it could help make the idea of flying taxis more appealing, being that city residents won't have to constantly be disturbed by the loud sounds of traditional planes.

However, New Zealand is being viewed as having a regulatory regime which is safety conscious.

On a blog post on the Cora website, the company highlighted the certification issues that prevented the aircraft from being brought out of the R&D process, saying: "A path to certifying an air taxi for everyday use just didn't exist".

Of course, Kitty Hawk isn't the only company doing such work.

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Cora is the creation of a small company named Kitty Hawk.

In a statement the company said Cora can "take off like a helicopter and transition to flying like a plane". That means that the rules it develops may become a template for other nations, including the United States. Uber has a division by itself called Uber Elevate.

Due to its relative isolation from other nations and long stretches of uninhabited land, New Zealand is the ideal testing ground for Kitty Hawk to prove its tech works without getting in the way of commercial planes or endangering people on the ground. Mr Page brought in Google-X founder and self-driving auto expert Sebastian Thrun to act as CEO of Kitty Hawk and former Virgin America and Delta CEO Fred Reid to head up Zephyr. Bonus points: The Kitty Hawk taxis will be autonomous.

But developers say it is much quieter, meaning it could transport passengers in urban areas using rooftops and auto parks as landing pads.

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

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