Kitty Hawk reveals new Cora air taxi

Adjust Comment Print

Kitty Hawk and other companies now pursuing autonomous electric taxi services still face significant regulatory hurdles in the U.S. before the unique business models can become a reality.

What's the difference between a plane and an flying taxi? Cora will use 12 lift rotors on the wings to take off and land vertically and will use a single propeller to power its fixed-wing flight. In keeping with 21st-century trends, it's also fully electric with a range of about 62 miles.

Kitty Hawk previously revealed its "Flyer" aircraft, which was more like a hovercraft crossed with a jet ski, and which it intends to sell to individuals in the recreational vehicle market. The fact sheet mentions that Cora has an experimental permit with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and New Zealand regulators, but only that the company is looking forward to sharing Cora with the New Zealand public. New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, in an email to The New York Times, explained that her country wants to become "net carbon zero" by 2050, and the Cora can help make that happen.

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.

"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. It looked less like a auto than a jet ski with wings.

Autonomous flight, and short-hop on-demand aerial transportation, are both big areas of focus for some other high-profile companies, including Uber, which is hosting its second annual conference dedicated to the idea in May, and Airbus, which has been investing in small, electric, autonomous aircraft via its own Vahanna project and through partnerships, including with automaker Audi.