Autonomous flying taxi firm, backed by Google co-founder, unveils first plane

14 March, 2018, 00:41 | Author: Myrtle Cook
  • Aircraft

The secretive company, financed by Google co-founder Larry Page, has finally broken cover.

Kitty Hawk did its unveiling via a YouTube video and a statement that appeared to take a swipe at the U.S.'s aviation regulations.

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 vehicle unit as the director of GoogleX.

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.

"A path to certifying an air taxi for everyday use just didn't exist". Small and effective, the Cora features a range of around 62 miles on a single charge. The prototype can fly two passengers.

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A number of start-ups and Silicon Valley giants have at least toyed with the idea of building and operating a fleet of autonomous, electric flying taxis, but so far it has remained largely on the drawing board.

It seems Kitty Hawk, a California startup, had no luck getting the permissions it wanted back home, so it decamped to New Zealand instead.

As part of an announcement, Page and the New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Arden are set to confirm Kitty Hawk's confirmation of the certification process for testing that could see a commercial network operate in the country in as little as three years. Being that the plane is fairly quiet, it could help make the idea of flying taxis more appealing, being that city residents won't have to constantly be disturbed by the loud sounds of traditional planes.

"We are offering a pollution free, emissions free vehicle that flies independently", Fred Reid, head of Kitty Hawk operations in New Zealand, said in a video posted on the company's website. Uber has been hard at work on a similar VTOL solution for the last couple years, and it hopes to have something concrete within a decade. But Kitty Hawk isn't the only company trying to get flying taxis into the air. Intel had a wild one at CES this year, too. Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) is working with a small company out of Germany on a flying vehicle.

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