Larry Page's Kitty Hawk reveals autonomous flying taxis
13 March 2018
Google co-founder Larry Page and now the chief executive of Google's parent Alphabet is financing a company, Kitty Hawk, run by Sebastian Thrun, who helped start Google's autonomous car unit as the director of GoogleX.
The company is testing a new kind of fully electric, self-piloting flying taxi, which is a completely different project from the one seen last year in a viral video of a single-pilot recreational aircraft, which was being tested over water. It is also much more ambitious.
It was reported that Uber has been planning to start a network of autonomous air taxis, but long before Uber does, Page is doing it now.
It is expected that a commercial network of flying taxis will be in operation in New Zealand in as soon as three years.
According to commentators, the move comes as a big step forward in the commercialisation of this technology, which even the most optimistic aviation experts had expected to take another decade to achieve.
The project enjoys the support of some of the brightest minds in the aviation and transport technology industries, including former staff from the likes of Google, NASA, Boeing and Honeywell.
It is expected that people would eventually use the flying vehicle called Cora, for short trips they typically take by car, to combat the growing problem of vehicle congestion on the ground.
Cora can take off and land like a helicopter, eliminating the need for runways. It has the potential to transform spaces like rooftops and parking lots into places to take off right from your neighborhood.
The vehicle, has been under development for eight years, and it can take off and land vertically, much like a helicopter.
The electric-powered vehicle will be flown by self-piloting software with human oversight from the ground. It has a range of about 100 kilometres and can hit speeds of 150kmh. The prototype can fly two passengers.
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said the programme was about "sending the message to the world that our doors are open for people with great ideas who want to turn them into reality".