Backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, Kitty Hawk formerly known as Zee-Aero, has finally launched its electric, autonomous air taxi Cora. It is a VTOL with two seats and twelve electric motors and got the backing of New Zealand’s new prime minister.
The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern and Larry Page are said to have reached an agreement to test Kitty Hawk’s autonomous planes as part of an official certification process. This step is crucial for a technology that is otherwise destined to stay in the land of dreams, or doomed to be grounded by regulators.
However, Kitty Hawk has been seen testing in the vast space of New Zealand’s southern island and has now presented its finished VTOL named Cora. Their aerial vehicle flies with a top speed of 177 kph up to a range of 100 km. A planned commercial service by Kitty Hawk may take off as early as in three years in NZ.
The compact aircraft is designed to transport two passengers on demand from A to B in future. To do this, Kitty Hawk is using autonomous flight systems. The director of the programme is Sebastian Thrun, who was also involved in Googles robot car project.
Currently there are numerous companies, including startups such as Samad and large aircraft manufacturers like Airbus, who are planning to begin launching electrified aircraft in a commercial, urban setting. The Airbus VTOL Vahana recently underwent its first test flights, for example, as did the Chinese Ehang passenger drone Ehang184, which has already released video footage of its tests with live subjects. Airspace Experience Technologies, or AirSpaceX for short, showed off their electric air taxi MOBi-ONE at the Detroit Motor Show in January.