Testing of world-first self-piloted air taxi in Canterbury

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Zephyr said using the air taxi would be a simple experience for passengers, similar to taking a ride-share in a auto.

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.

A flying auto startup backed by Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, has stolen a march on Uber by testing autonomous "air taxis" that could be carrying passengers by 2021. The vehicle can take off like a helicopter but fly like a plane, traveling at over 93 miles per hour. Therefore, Cora has no need for a runway.

You might not think of New Zealand as being on the cutting edge of aviation innovations, but with a new self-flying taxi aiming to achieve regulatory approval, perhaps it's time to rethink that assessment.

Cora is all-electric, with self-driving software and seats two.

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Flying cars, autonomous or otherwise, have picked up major traction in the last few years. Small and effective, the Cora features a range of around 62 miles on a single charge. Bonus points: The Kitty Hawk taxis will be autonomous.

Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern confirmed the news to the Times, saying the project is "about sending the message to the world that our doors are open for people with great ideas who want to turn them into reality".

Kitty Hawk is run by former Google X head Sebastian Thrun, while Cora's initial blog post makes out New Zealand as its base to make a future "where the freedom of flight belongs to everyone" in the same way that the Wright Brothers initially took off in North Carolina.

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.

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