Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Ellis Neal

Kitty Hawk will bring autonomous flying taxis to New Zealand

Kitty Hawk will bring autonomous flying taxis to New Zealand

Flying from the South Island into the future - without a pilot South Island testing of autonomous air travel is being welcomed by Christchurch Airport. Kitty Hawk has the agreement of the government to test Cora there and everyone involved hopes it will lead to the first commercial network of flying taxis. The air taxi looks like a small single-seater plane, but then you notice the wings are covered in a dozen small propellers and there's a surprising lack of noise on take-off.

Kitty Hawk and other companies now pursuing autonomous electric taxi services still face significant regulatory hurdles in the USA before the unique business models can become a reality. An "air taxi" developed by Page's Kitty Hawk company, the electric aircraft is intended for use as part of a transportation service instead of sale to individual users.

"Cora rises like a helicopter and flies like a plane, eliminating the need for a runway and creating the possibility of taking off from places like rooftops", a fact sheet by the startup reads.

"We have a lot of work to do and we are working constructively with regulatory authorities", the Cora team, formerly known as Zee.Aero, says on its fact sheet.

Flying cars, autonomous or otherwise, have picked up major traction in the last few years. It can go 60 miles on a charge, at heights of up to 3,000 feet and speeds of 110 miles per hour. It has a range of about 62 miles right now.

When reached for additional comment Tuesday, a Kitty Hawk spokesperson would only refer us to the company's fact sheet and website. The rather diminutive craft has room for just a couple of people on board and has been seen in the skies over New Zealand doing tests in recent months. Bonus points: The Kitty Hawk taxis will be autonomous.

Kitty Hawk will operate the flights through Zephyr Airworks, which Kitty Hawk set up in New Zealand in 2016.

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