New Zealand Mulls Regulatory Approval of Kitty Hawk Flying Taxis

Watch: Self-piloted flying taxi being tested in Christchurch

The Cora, which is emissions free, takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter.

Kitty Hawk, the company led by the "godfather of self-driving cars" Sebastian Thrun and backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, has revealed its Cora aircraft, which is a hybrid vertical takeoff and landing design that can take off like a helicopter but fly like a plane.

According to Kitty Hawk's website, Cora is created to help you save time by "soaring over traffic", and bring the airport to you.

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel says the project is a ideal fit with the city's commitment to becoming carbon neutral.

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"This aircraft represents the evolution of the transport eco system to one that responds to a global challenge around traffic and congestion, and is kinder to the planet".

Larry Page has made it clear, though, that his Mountain View-based company would like to bring its taxis to the U.S. and European Union, once New Zealand has shown these governments how the certification process could work. Being electric, the air taxi is also "remarkably quiet", according to Eric Allison, Kitty Hawk's vice president of engineering.

Cora can carry two passengers at once, and will elevate between 500 and 3,000 feet above the ground for its flights.

The project enjoys the support of some of the brightest minds in the aviation and transport technology industries, including former staff from the likes of Google, NASA, Boeing and Honeywell. The country said it will embrace the company and welcomed it to continue tests. Both New Zealand and Kitty Hawk hope to have the vehicles ready for commercialization in three years.

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She said Canterbury was the right location due to its physical environment.

Negotiations between Kitty Hawk and the New Zealand government have been going on for about 18 months, with multiple government agencies pledging to "streamline" the process of approval for a flying-taxi trial, according to Stuff.

"New Zealand has a long history of innovation and being at the front of change".

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said the programme was about "sending the message to the world that our doors are open for people with great ideas who want to turn them into reality".

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