Kitty Hawk will bring autonomous flying taxis to New Zealand

Cora can carry two passengers

Cora can carry two passengers

The company led by Sebastian Thrun and backed by Google co-founder Larry Page returns today with a look at their new design.

Eight years in the making, Cora sports a series of rotors on each wing that grants it the ability to take off and land vertically, like a helicopter. Cora can also fly at altitudes of between 500 to 3,000 feet and is to be powered by a fully electric engine.

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. It has a 62-mile range and room on board for two passengers.

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The good folks over at Kitty Hawk are looking to change the game of flight. Zephyr Airwork's CEO is Fred Reid, the founding CEO of Virgin America and former president of Delta Air Lines.

This time around, though, Kitty Hawk's ambitions are bigger.

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". We had our moment.

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Now, it would seem that Cora and the company behind it are nearly ready for prime time, as Kitty Hawk and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced that an agreement has been reached that will see Kitty Hawk's portfolio officially tested for certification.

Kitty Hawk had previously tested another flying vehicle prototype called the "Flyer" last April.

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".

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Reports surfaced in 2016 that Google co-founder (and now Alphabet CEO) Larry Page had two "flying car" projects in the works, and while we saw the Flyer recreational vehicle unveiled a year ago, today it's time to meet Cora.

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