Kitty Hawk is testing electric self-flying taxis in New Zealand


Google co-founder Larry Page's aviation start-up has unveiled its first project - new air-taxi prototype named Cora.

Kitty Hawk is based in California, and a company called Zephyr Airworks is their operator in New Zealand.

Kitty Hawk, which has so far only demonstrated its piloted recreational hovercraft (a luxury item created to help it spur development of its autonomous air taxis) has been testing its autonomous electric passenger aircraft, which resembles a small plane with variable rotors that can go from a vertical alignment for take-off and landing, to a horizontal one for flying like an ordinary plane through the skies.

Cora is capable of traveling at up to 110mph (180km/s) with a range of 62 miles (100km) carrying two passengers.

The technology, eight years in the making, had been searching for its own Kitty Hawk, where it could test "an air taxi, affectionately named Cora, that could take off like a helicopter and transition to flying like a plane", according to the release.

The aircraft has been developed by Kitty Hawk, which is run by Sebastian Thrun, who previously led the development of Google's self-driving cars as director of Google X.

Once it's in the air, a single propeller drives Cora at about 110 miles per hour, between altitudes of 500 and 3,000 feet.

You might not think of New Zealand as being on the cutting edge of aviation innovations, but with a new self-flying taxi aiming to achieve regulatory approval, perhaps it's time to rethink that assessment.

The good folks over at Kitty Hawk are looking to change the game of flight.

The New York Times also points out that New Zealand's decision could be seen as a positive sign for other major countries like the United States. The Porsche board member responsible for sales and marketing talked to us at Geneva about a potential flying Porsche, part of the company's Strategy 2025 that looks at how Porsche's sports cars will fit into the future of transportation.