The flying auto company led by Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun and backed by Google co-founder Larry Page is breaking cover with a new deal that will see it test its autonomous electric air taxis with the New Zealand government, with the aim of having a commercial network ready to carry passengers within as little as three years, the New York Times reports.
Now, it would seem that Cora and the company behind it are nearly ready for prime time, as Kitty Hawk and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced that an agreement has been reached that will see Kitty Hawk's portfolio officially tested for certification. 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. It has a range of about 62 miles right now.
The technology, eight years in the making, had been searching for its own Kitty Hawk, where it could test "an air taxi, affectionately named Cora, that could take off like a helicopter and transition to flying like a plane", according to the release. The Cora finds Kitty Hawk's vision coming to life.
Reports surfaced in 2016 that Google co-founder (and now Alphabet CEO) Larry Page had two "flying car" projects in the works, and while we saw the Flyer recreational vehicle unveiled past year, today it's time to meet Cora. With a 36-foot wingspan, the aircraft flies between 500 and 3,000 feet above the ground at around 110 miles per hour.
The Cora prototype being tested in New Zealand's South Island uses three on-board computers to calculate its flight path and is capable of carrying two passengers. It looked less like a auto than a jet ski with wings. Flying cars are also proving to be big hits at auto shows - Airbus and Audi unveiled a concept at this year's Geneva Motor Show, alongside the Pal-V Liberty autogyro. The vehicles more often look like small planes than flying cars.