Kitty Hawk, a flying taxi firm that is personally financed by the chief executive officer of Alphabet, Larry Page, has launched a commercial plane known as Cora. According to Kitty Hawk the flying car takes off like a chopper and then transitions to flying in a manner similar to that of planes. The flying car has been in development for about eight years. It is self-piloting and can reach speeds of over 150 KPH and possesses a 100-kilometer range.
The autonomous plans of Kitty Hawk are initially expected to begin operations in New Zealand in the next three years marking a big step in commercializing the technology. New Zealand is expected to be the leading country in the technology despite the fact that most of the innovative work is being carried out in Silicon Valley, California.
Net carbon zero goals
According to New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, the Asia Pacific country is aiming to be net carbon zero within the next three decades and the fact that the flying taxi is electric is reason enough to embrace the technology. In the United States however the regulatory environment is challenging for the technology. Though the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration permits autonomous vehicles to carry out test flights, a path has not been set for the certification and commercialization.
This stands in contrast to other countries such as those in Africa and the Middle East which have proved more flexible with regards to allowing unmanned flights. However there are few chances that these countries will become models for regulatory authorities in the aviation sector across the globe leaving New Zealand as the most likely one to serve as a template.
“New Zealand’s Central Aviation Authority has the respect of the world-wide regulatory community. A people who embrace the future. And a dynamic economy that could serve as a springboard for Cora,” said Kitty Hawk in a statement.
Kitty Hawk is not the only player in the air taxi business. Last year in November Aurora Flight Sciences was acquired by Boeing while two weeks ago, Airbus invested in New York-based aviation startup, Blade. Ride-hailing firm Uber also owns an entire unit dedicated to air taxis known as Uber Elevate.
New Zealand Kitty Hawk operates as Zephyr Airworks. The chief executive officer of Zephyr Airworks is Fred Reid, a former Virgin America executive. Reid has also served as a Delta Air Lines president as well as a Lufthansa Airlines president.