Google Co-Founder Tests Self-Flying Taxis in New Zealand

Mar 14, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Say “Hi” to Cora, Google Co-Founder Larry Page’s newest baby.

Cora, an electric air taxi that can carry two passengers, in flight in New Zealand. (Photo by Richard Lord, via Kitty Hawk)
Cora is an electric air taxi that can carry two passengers. (Photo by Richard Lord, via Kitty Hawk)

Cora is the brainchild of California-based
Kitty Hawk, an aviation company headed by Sebastian Thrun, who is the former director of Google X. The company’s mission is to bring fully electric, self-piloting aircraft into the public transportation realm.

“With our prototype air taxi Cora, we are applying eight years of research and development into an entirely new way to commute,” Kitty Hawk CEO Sebastian Thrun said. “We are excited to work with the people of New Zealand to work on this exciting new technology.”

Cora most closely resembles the lovechild of a small plane and a drone, combining electric power, self-piloting software and vertical take-off technology. The aircraft boasts a wingspan of 36 feet, with a dozen battery-powered rotor blades that allow the plane to take off like a helicopter, then fly like a plane. Cora combines electric power, self-piloting software, and vertical take-off technology similar to a helicopter in order to carry two passengers for about 60 miles as high as 3,000 feet off the ground at up to 110 mph.

Kitty Hawk has been testing Cora’s flight skills since October 2017, over New Zealand’s South Island. In contrast to Uber, which has been quite public about its ambitions to launch autonomous flying taxis in partnership with Embraer, Page and his partners have kept Kitty Hawk’s mission very private up until now. In fact, the company’s test flights have been operated under another name, New Zealand-based Zephyr Airworks. The Zephyr Airworks/Kitty Hawk partnership will allow the companies to begin pursuing the additional certification necessary to begin commercial service.

Within the United States, meeting the Federal Aviation Administration’s stringent safety requirements will be Cora’s biggest challenge. While the FAA allows test flights for self-flying aircraft, there are no prior guidelines for bringing this technology to the mainstream public.

Uber’s Embraer partnership in Uber Elevate isn’t Cora’s only competitor in the pilotless aviation space. Boeing purchased autonomous aircraft company Aurora Flight Sciences in November 2017; Airbus is investing in New York-based start-up Blade; and Chinese company EHang has partnered up with the city of Dubai to bring flying taxis to the United Arab Emirates.

As Kitty Hawk’s website tagline says, “Things are looking up.”

Featured photo by Richard Lord, via Kitty Hawk

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.