Google founder Larry Page's flying taxi takes flight

Testing of world-first self-piloted air taxi in Canterbury

The secretive company, financed by Google co-founder Larry Page, has finally broken cover.

"Cora", developed by Larry Page's Kitty Hawk company, is an electric aircraft intended for use as part of a transportation service instead of sale to individual users. The company has been testing out the autonomous flying taxi in New Zealand.

The vehicle, has been under development for eight years, and it can take off and land vertically, much like a helicopter.

Negotiations between Kitty Hawk and the New Zealand government have been going on for about 18 months, with multiple government agencies pledging to "streamline" the process of approval for a flying-taxi trial, according to Stuff.

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"I have had the privilege of seeing the self-piloted air taxi and I am very excited about what it offers for future generations - to live and move in a way that has never been possible before". Small and effective, the Cora features a range of around 62 miles on a single charge. It's designed, according to the company, for two passengers.

"Zephyr Airworks came here because of the ease of doing business in New Zealand, our safety-focused regulatory environment, our culture of ingenuity and our vision for clean technologies and future transport alternatives", she said. You'd hail or reserve one, as you would an Uber-although it's safe to expect that an air taxi ride would be more expensive than your average Lyft home.

A history of the project detailed on Cora's website pointedly notes that several of the aircraft's early design milestones took place in California, but that sometime between the craft's first human flight, in August 2017, and signing an agreement with New Zealand October 2017, the company made the decision to "partner" with the far-off country. But New Zealand has a more careful, conservative approach to it, which could help other countries get on board if everything else proves feasible.

Anyone hoping to pick up their own autonomous flying taxi for personal use in the next few years will be disappointed. Intel had a wild one at CES this year, too. First it hosted Hobbiton, and now it'll serve as the first major testing ground for a professional flying vehicle company.

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