Kitty Hawk's autonomous air taxi lifts off in New Zealand

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Kitty Hawk, an autonomous flying taxi firm backed by Alphabet CEO and Google co-founder Larry Page, unveiled its prototype Cora air taxi on Monday.

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.

Kitty Hawk will set up its New Zealand operations through a local subsidiary called Zephyr Airworks.

Alphabet chief executive Larry Page has been putting his vast wealth into a number of projects, including a flying taxi start-up now testing in New Zealand.

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Kitty Hawk was rumoured to be pitching a "flying car" prototype as far back as 2016 - when it began pitching the concept to various governments to secure backing. That's exactly what any company wants to hear.

"I have had the privilege of seeing the self-piloted air taxi and I am very excited about what it offers for future generations - to live and move in a way that has never been possible before".

The flying machine is entirely electric, emission-free, and can fly at speeds in excess of 150 kph (more than 93 mph) and up to 100 kilometers (62 miles), according to the company. It uses 12 fans for vertical take-off and landing, and flies between 500 and 300 feet of altitude.

The US Federal Aviation Administration now lacks a certification basis to accept the airworthiness of such vehicles to transport fare-paying passengers.

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Kitty Hawk's first publicly revealed air taxi, Cora, is a fully autonomous and electric machine.

Kitty Hawk's Cora is completely autonomous, fully electric, and can travel at speeds of 93 miles per hour. In November, Boeing acquired Aurora Flight Sciences. But aviation regulators in the rest of the world do not see those countries as models. Kitty Hawk has been conducting a series of stealth test flights in New Zealand sincaDe October, the Times reports. This means that the rules it develops may become an example for other nations, including the US.

It has been clear for several years that improvements in batteries, electric motors, and software would make it possible to build a vehicle like this. Ehang is developing a self-flying helicopter.

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