Kitty Hawk, the flying-car startup backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, just unveiled its first vehicle, named Cora, and revealed where it might start flying first. The company has been working on this air taxi, Cora, for the past eight years.
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand's prime minister, has introduced the venture together with Fred Reid, chief executive of Zephyr Airworks, Kitty Hawk's operator in the country.
The New Zealand bit is interesting, because the statement Kitty Hawk released is as much an advertisement for the regulatory environment in the small country off the Australian coast as it is a promotion for this new device.
As for how Kitty Hawk's self-flying tech works, we haven't seen anything revealed yet. That's exactly what any company wants to hear.
It is expected that people would eventually use the flying vehicle called Cora, for short trips they typically take by auto, to combat the growing problem of vehicle congestion on the ground. Cora has a range of 100 kilometers and a top speed of 177 kilometers per hour and it can fly at heights of between 150 meters and 900 meters. The design is known as the Cora aircraft, a hybrid vertical take-off, and landing creation.
The US Federal Aviation Administration now lacks a certification basis to accept the airworthiness of such vehicles to transport fare-paying passengers. 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. In November, Boeing acquired Aurora Flight Sciences. This means that the rules it develops may become an example for other nations, including the US.
But developers say it is much quieter, meaning it could transport passengers in urban areas using rooftops and vehicle parks as landing pads.