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Kitty Hawk unveils Cora, a prototype for autonomous, electric flying taxis

Tanvi Dubey
14th Mar 2018
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Driverless cars, trucks, trips to Mars, and travel via Hyperloop – the world of transport has been changing relatively fast in the last few years. Technology and its manifestations that we saw only in movies even until a few years ago and that seemed far-fetched are fast becoming a reality.

With Kitty Hawk unveiling their driverless flying taxis, it looks like the transport industry is ready for the next round of change. Kitty Hawk is a US-based company that focuses on marrying the power of electric transportation to everyday life. It’s CEO is Sebastian Thrun, a scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur. The company is backed by Larry Page, Google’s Co-founder. Kitty Hawk, in a YouTube video, unveiled its flying aircraft Cora on March 12. A “two-seater autonomous 12-rotor plane-drone hybrid with vertical take-off capability”, Cora can fly up at 100 miles an hour for around 62 miles at a time. 

Image: Cora

Eric Allison, VP, Engineering, Cora, says in the video, “We are so excited to unveil Cora to the world. It is 100 percent electric and therefore, emissions-free. A vehicle that flies dependably. This is the logical next step in the innovation of transportation.” 

A statement by Cora stated, “Our story starts with a group of dreamers from California with a big idea. To build the aircraft the world has been fantasizing about since Wilber and Orville – Marty’s Delorean, the Jetson’s Hovercar – an aircraft so personal it could weave the freedom of flight into our daily lives. After almost 8 years of engineering, re-engineering, and re-re-engineering, we had done it. We had designed an air taxi, affectionately named Cora, that could take off like a helicopter and transition to flying like a plane. The possibilities were limitless.”

Kitty Hawk states New Zealand as its desired choice because of its history and “excellence in space management” and its “safety-focused regulatory environment”. In the video released by Kitty Hawk, Hon. Dr Megan Woods, Minister for Research, Science and Innovation, New Zealand says, “We’ve got ambitious goals here in NZ. We want to get to mid-zero emissions by 2050 and that includes mobility. We are proud that Kitty Hawk has chosen New Zealand to undertake this exciting research and development work. It is one of the flagship companies in our innovative partnerships program.”

Cora will not be available for consumer sale. It will serve more as a ride-sharing service, or likely be a part of an airline. The Kitty Hawk team has not given a deadline as to when it will be available for public flight. Uber is planning to launch its own air-transportation service in 2020. The air-transport space is definitely going to warm up as we look forward to great sustainable solutions to traffic woes in the future.

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