Larry Page-Backed Company Tests Its New Flying Taxi in New Zealand

Aircraft

Kitty Hawk isn't just planning to build a new kind of aircraft; it's also planning to launch an air taxi service, starting in New Zealand.

In an email, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Arden told The New York Times that Kitty Hawk's electric flying taxis could help the country achieve a goal of eliminating net carbon emissions by 2050.

New Zealand's government is officially announcing an agreement to test the vehicles, revealed for the first time in stunning footage, in the country.

A machine that takes off like a helicopter and flies like a plane is the design behind Cora, an autonomous vehicle that's taking flight from the Larry Page-backed Kitty Hawk, a flying auto company.

The self-flying plane can travel at speeds up to 110 miles per hour and fly 3,000 feet off the ground, the Cora website states.

It hopes to make the vehicles commercially available in New Zealand within three years.

Current regulations in the United States would make a Kitty Hawk taxi service impossible. It can fly about 62 miles and carry two passengers. Zephyr Airwork's CEO is Fred Reid, the founding CEO of Virgin America and former president of Delta Air Lines. They could have laughed us out of the room.

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When reached for additional comment Tuesday, a Kitty Hawk spokesperson would only refer us to the company's fact sheet and website.

"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.

Kitty Hawk had previously tested another flying vehicle prototype called the "Flyer" last April.

The decision to embrace the commercial use of flying taxis offers New Zealand an opportunity to leapfrog many developed countries in this area, and perhaps give it a head start over Silicon Valley, where much of the most innovative work has been taking place.

In 2015 a second competing flying-car startup called Kitty Hawk, also began operations in its headquarters close to Google's.

So far it has been going under the codename Zee.Aero, which led some to connect the dots with Page.

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.

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