Larry Page's pilotless air taxis now flying openly in New Zealand

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Flying from the South Island into the future - without a pilot South Island testing of autonomous air travel is being welcomed by Christchurch Airport. The air taxi looks like a small single-seater plane, but then you notice the wings are covered in a dozen small propellers and there's a surprising lack of noise on take-off. The company, financed by Google co-founder Larry Page, intends to seek official certification for the Cora, an autonomous flying taxi, with the intent of deploying a fleet of flying taxis in as little as three years.

The report says Kitty Hawk is already working on a taxi-hailing app, and plans to run the entire operation itself.

"Cora rises like a helicopter and flies like a plane, eliminating the need for a runway and creating the possibility of taking off from places like rooftops", a fact sheet by the startup reads. Its goal is to become part of an airline-like or ride-sharing service.

The airport company has been in discussions with the American company for some time now, supporting its search for a suitable test space for the autonomous air taxi, known as Cora.

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Zee.Aero, by the way, had been testing flying cars in California in the past couple of years. It has a range of about 62 miles right now.

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. Cora can also fly at altitudes of between 500 to 3,000 feet and is to be powered by a fully electric engine.

"Zephyr Airworks came here because of the ease of doing business in New Zealand, our safety-focused regulatory environment, our culture of ingenuity and our vision for clean technologies and future transport alternatives".

Kitty Hawk is led by CEO Sebastian Thrun - of Google X, Google's self-driving vehicle unit and Google Glass fame.

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