Google co-founder Larry Page-backed flying taxis, now exiting stealth mode

Kristen Gonzales
March 14, 2018

"You wouldn't have to know anything about flying a plane".

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.

Kitty Hawk, a Silicon Valley aviation company, revealed that it has conducted secret test flights in New Zealand under the cover of a local subsidiary, Zephyr Airworks.

Right now, the VTOL can go 62 miles on a charge in the air while carrying two passengers, and Cora has passed its first public test with flying colors.

Sebastian Thrun, the entrepreneur and computer scientist who formerly headed up Google's self-driving auto efforts, is in charge of Kitty Hawk. Page has secretly worked with a company called Kitty Hawk, run by Sebastian Thrun.

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A flying auto startup backed by Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, has stolen a march on Uber by testing autonomous "air taxis" that could be carrying passengers by 2021.

Imagine starting a network of autonomous air taxis, as Uber is planning to, but long before Uber actually does. It looks like a cross between a small plane and a drone, with a series of small rotor blades along each wing that allow it to take off like a helicopter and then fly like a plane. Cora can also fly at altitudes of between 500 to 3,000 feet and is to be powered by a fully electric engine.

Kitty Hawk was founded by Sebastian Thrun, Google's former director of Google X, its advanced research division which also oversaw Google's autonomous vehicle developments. But aviation regulators in the rest of the world do not see those countries as models. Trials for the new mode of transportation will take six years, and be based around the city of Christchurch.

In November 2017, Boeing bought Aurora Flight Sciences. This means that the rules it develops may become an example for other nations, including the US. Just a year ago, Dubai said EHang would begin operating an autonomous flying taxi service last July.

It has been clear for several years that improvements in batteries, electric motors, and software would make it possible to build a vehicle like this.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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