Larry Page aims for air taxis in New Zealand

Flying taxi

Kitty Hawk, an autonomous air taxi company founded by Google co-founder Larry Page and run by former Google VP Sebastian Thrun, revealed today that it has reached an agreement with New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern to publicly test autonomous flying vehicles in the country's airspace, in the hopes of certifying a commercial taxi company within three years or less.

Now, it would seem that Cora and the company behind it are nearly ready for prime time, as Kitty Hawk and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced that an agreement has been reached that will see Kitty Hawk's portfolio officially tested for certification.

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. It can go 60 miles on a charge, at heights of up to 3,000 feet and speeds of 110 miles per hour.

Airborne passenger drones or self-flying taxis are a big focal point in transportation: a way to fill our airways using environmentally-friendly vehicles. The rather diminutive craft has room for just a couple of people on board and has been seen in the skies over New Zealand doing tests in recent months.

The aircraft was by Kitty Hawk, headed by Sebastian Thrun, who previously led the development of Google's self-driving auto project as the director of Google X.

With a wingspan of 11 meters (36 feet), the all-electric Cora uses a propeller at the back to fly up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) at a time.

He remains chief executive of Google's parent Alphabet but the Kitty Hawk and Cora projects are a personal pursuit, not part of the tech giant's operations. In November, Boeing acquired Aurora Flight Sciences. That means that the rules it develops may become a template for other nations, including the United States. And of course Uber has an entire division called Uber Elevate.

"The dreamers from California met the visionaries from New Zealand", Kitty Hawk said in a press release that lauds New Zealand for having "a government and society with an eye to the horizon".

Developers of the flying taxis say that they're much quieter than helicopters.

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.

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