Autonomous taxi Cora conquers the sky of New Zealand

As early as 2016, the first reports appeared that one of the founders of Google (and now Alphabet’s CEO) Larry Page financed from his own means and motives a number of projects to develop flying cars. Last year, we saw one of the results of these investments – an entertaining flying vessel Flyer. Now it’s time for a much more interesting project, named Cora.

This “air taxi” was developed by the California company Kitty Hawk, owned by Mr. Page. It is an electric hybrid of an airplane and a multi-propeller drone intended for use as an element of transport infrastructure, and not for sale to individual interested buyers. It is conceived that Cora will rely on special autopilot software. The creation of the aircraft took a considerable 8 years of design, tests and upgrades.

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The advantage of the machine is the possibility of vertical take-off and landing using twelve lifting screws. In other words, like the helicopter, Cora does not require a mandatory runway. Taking off, such a taxi, like a plane, relies on the lift of its wings and a rear propeller, allowing it to pick up speed up to 180 km / h at an altitude of 150 to 900 meters above ground level.

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According to the developer, the hybrid aircraft is equipped with three independent on-board computers and can safely navigate even if one of them fails. Each of the dozens of rotors also works independently. Finally, if things have gone quite badly, a parachute is provided for landing in emergency conditions.

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Other features:

  • the food is fully electric;
  • capacity is designed for two passengers;
  • the wingspan reaches 11 meters;
  • Flight on the wings is carried out with a single rear propeller;
  • the flight distance initially is only about 100 kilometers.

At the head of Kitty Hawk is the former head of Google X (the division of ambitious long-term projects) Sebastian Tran (Sebastian Thrun). The project participants pursue an ambitious goal: to ensure the future, in which the freedom of flight belongs to everyone. According to the New York Times, the company has reached an agreement with the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, about launching a full-fledged testing of these ambitious aircraft in the country. In the first entry of the blog Cora tells about the New Zealand base, the ultimate goal of which is the launch of a commercial air taxi service.

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Known earlier under the name Zee.Aero, Zephyr Airworks acts as the operator of Kitty Hawk in New Zealand, but when you can expect to launch a full-fledged taxi – not yet reported. The timeline on the official website shows how much progress has been made by the company over the years, from the first take-off in 2011, the first self-piloted flight in 2014 and the base for testing the autopilot in New Zealand last October. It should be noted that Kitty Hawk is not the only company working on air taxi concepts. However, others, like EHang and Uber Elevate, have not yet made such progress.

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Sources: Engadget

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