FLYING TAXIS have long been stuck in the realm of sci-fi, but Google co-founder Larry Page is taking a step closer to making them a reality.
Page's Kitty Hawk company revealed the Cora, a two-person plane-pod hybrid that rocks 12 rotors so it can take-off vertically like a drone. Sadly, our very own Page isn't remotely as inventive as Larry.
After using a company called Zephyr Airworks to hide the Cora testing, Kitty Hawk came out of the shadows to reveal it'll start an approvals process to launch the aircraft in New Zealand.
After using a company called Zephyr Airworks to hide the Cora during testing, Kitty Hawk came out of the shadows to reveal it'll start an approvals process to launch the aircraft in New Zealand.
The idea behind the Cora is to create an autonomous air taxi service using an electric powered craft, that could see parking paces swapped for landing pads.
"After almost eight years of engineering, re-engineering and re-re-engineering, we had done it. We had designed an air taxi, affectionately named Cora, that could take off like a helicopter and transition to flying like a plane. The possibilities were limitless," Kitty Hawk's website revealed.
New Zealand was chosen as a potential testbed for the Cora due to the respect its aviation sector commands, along with the country's pursuit of a sustainable energy ecosystem.
"New Zealand's Central Aviation Authority has the respect of the worldwide regulatory community. A people who embrace the future. And a dynamic economy that could serve as a springboard for Cora," Kitty Hawk explained.
We'd have thought New Zealand was selected for its large expanse of open space and rather small population that reduces the likelihood of human death and property damage if the Cora goes rogue and ploughs into one of those Middle-Earth style mountains the country has.
And New Zealand appears pretty keen to have Kitty Hawk flying around its country, presumably because its bored of being known as a nation full of sheep, hills and Hobbiton.
"In New Zealand, we know we can't keep using the same old approaches to meet our future challenges. We saw Cora's potential as a sustainable, efficient and transformative technology that can enrich people's lives, not only in New Zealand, but ultimately the whole world," enthused Dr Peter Crabtree of New Zealand's Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
And to think the UK is still prattling around with driverless car testing.
All this sounds promising for the future of flying cars and taxis. But while Kitty Hawk appears to be getting off the ground, we reckon it'll have quite the task on its hands if it wants to persuade people to put their lives in the hands of what is essentially an oversize drone.
Still, most commercial aeroplanes are pretty much in the hands of autopilot systems. And if the excrement really hits the rotary blades, then the Cora has a built-in parachute to make its sky fall less of a death plummet. µ
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