Google co-founder Larry Page-backed flying taxis, now exiting stealth mode


In April previous year, Google co-founder Larry Page publicly announced he was building an electric, flying auto through a company called Kitty Hawk.

Negotiations between Kitty Hawk and the New Zealand government have been going on for about 18 months, with multiple government agencies pledging to "streamline" the process of approval for a flying-taxi trial, according to Stuff.

Kitty Hawk, the secretive flying-car startup that's funded by Alphabet CEO Larry Page, has finally taken the wraps off its flying taxi, which it calls Cora.

Kitty Hawk has operated largely in secret until April 2017, led by Sebastian Thrun, who is also a founder of Google's self-driving vehicle program and online education service Udacity.

Mr Page's wholly owned aviation firm Kitty Hawk - named after the Wright brothers' home town in North Carolina - has unveiled an air-taxi prototype eight-years in the making. "And a dynamic economy that could serve as a springboard for Cora", Kitty Hawk explained. It can travel about 62 miles / 100 kilometers per trip, and hits maximum speeds of 110 mph / 180 kmh.

Current regulations in the United States would make a Kitty Hawk taxi service impossible. Once in the air, it uses a single propeller to fly like an airplane. In the event of a complete loss of power to all 12 fans, the Cora is also equipped with a parachute.

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Other countries, mostly in the Middle East and Africa, have been more aggressive about allowing unmanned flights and appear willing to be some of the first places where this technology will be used.

The flying taxi can "take off like a helicopter and transition to flying like a plane", the company says. But those countries have never been seen as models for aviation regulators in the rest of the developed world.

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

But developers say it is much quieter, meaning it could transport passengers in urban areas using rooftops and auto parks as landing pads. Boeing bought Aurora Flight Sciences, Airbus made an investment in Blade, and Uber is already working on the same idea with Uber Elevate.

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