Google guru Page tests flying taxis in New Zealand

2018-03-14 12:07
An artist's impression of a flying car. (AP, file)

An artist's impression of a flying car. (AP, file)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Wellington - Pilot-less flying taxis are being tested in New Zealand as part of a project backed by Google co-founder Larry Page that supporters say will revolutionise personal transport.

New Zealand regulators late on Tuesday approved plans for Zephyr Airworks, a subsidiary of Page's company Kitty Hawk, to develop and test the futuristic air taxis.

Known as Cora, the electric aircraft has a dozen small lift rotors on its wings, making it capable of vertical take-off and landing like a helicopter.

But developers say it is much quieter, meaning it could transport passengers in urban areas using rooftops and car parks as landing pads.

"We are offering a pollution free, emission free vehicle that flies dependably, we think this is the logical next step in the evolution of transportation," Zephyr chief executive Fred Reid said.

Simple experience

The Cora prototype being tested in New Zealand's South Island uses three on-board computers to calculate its flight path and is capable of carrying two passengers.

The computers operate independently as a safety measure and the aircraft can deploy a parachute if anything goes wrong.

The aircraft, previously known as Zee.Aero, has a range of 100km, reaching speeds of 150km/h and an altitude of up to 900m.

The Cora project envisages the air taxis becoming so common that "air travel will be woven into our daily lives".

Zephyr said using them would be a simple experience for passengers.

"You wouldn't have to know anything about flying a plane. Cora could fly for you," it said in a promotional video. "And it would be all-electric, helping to build a sustainable world."

Page's company is also developing a prototype personal aircraft called the Kitty Hawk Flyer and unveiled an early model in the US in 2017.

However, it looked more like a recreational plaything than a flying car, suitable only for flying above water and seating the pilot in an open top cabin exposed to the elements.

Experimental airworthiness certificate

Cora appears far more robust, with a design more like a traditional aircraft featuring wings, a tail and a closed canopy for passengers.

The aircraft will not be offered for sale, instead the public must book trips like they would with an airline or taxi service.

Zephyr said Cora took eight years to design but then developers needed a suitable environment to safely test the new technology.

They settled on New Zealand because of its uncongested airspace and rigorous regulatory environment, with Reid saying local officials had embraced the idea.

"We had no idea what to expect," he said. "They could have laughed us out of the room. We were pitching something that sounded like science fiction."

Cora has been given an experimental airworthiness certificate from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority.

Trialling the flying taxi service will reportedly take six years, with operations based around the city of Christchurch.

"This aircraft represents the evolution of the transport eco system to one that responds to a global challenge around traffic and congestion, and is kinder to the planet," Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel said.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    new zealand  |  environment  |  air travel

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.