Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
Finance | By Jaime Brady

Meet Cora, the air taxi funded by Google co-founder Larry Page

Meet Cora, the air taxi funded by Google co-founder Larry Page

Included in the company's fact sheet about Cora: what the air taxi will do if its propellers fail in midair.

The aircraft uses self-flying software and 12 lift fans for a vertical take-off and landing, so a runway is not required.

The move is a big step forward in the commercialization of this technology, which even the most optimistic prognosticators had recently bet would take another decade to achieve.

Kitty Hawk's aircraft, called Cora, looks like a mix between a drone and a small plane.

FLYING TAXIS have always been stuck in the realm of sci-fi, but Google co-founder Larry Page is taking a step closer to making them a reality.

Under the name Zephyr Airworks, California startup Kitty Hawk has been testing an air taxi prototype in New Zealand since October, SBS News reported Tuesday.

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Certifying the vehicle with a regulatory body will be a major undertaking, but if Kitty Hawk and Page succeed, New Zealand could lay out the blueprint for aviation regulators worldwide.

Cora was created by Kitty Hawk, run by former Google X head Sebastian Thrun and named after the town in North Carolina where the Wright brothers completed their first controlled flight. The country said it will embrace the company and welcomed it to continue tests. We had no Kitty Hawk of our own, ' the statement read.

Cora is capable of traveling at up to 110mph (180km/s) with a range of 62 miles (100km) carrying two passengers. Mr Page brought in Google-X founder and self-driving auto expert Sebastian Thrun to act as CEO of Kitty Hawk and former Virgin America and Delta CEO Fred Reid to head up Zephyr. It has a wing span of 36 feet (11 m). "We were pitching something that sounded like science fiction".

Airways also intends to test the capabilty of New Zealand's existing telecommunications network to track the likes of Zephyr Airworks' autonomous vehicle Cora and UAVs in uncontrolled airspace and enable better telemetry for drone pilots.

Dr Peter Crabtree, of New Zealand's Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), added: 'In New Zealand, we know we can't keep using the same old approaches to meet our future challenges.

"And it would be all-electric, helping to build a sustainable world". But, if Kitty Hawk impresses the world in 2021, regulations could slowly morph into making the fliers an global reality.

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