Google cofounder's flying taxi takes to the skies in New Zealand


Meanwhile, Google's Larry Page has been funding a company that will bypass all of that.

A flying vehicle 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.

Through the partnership, Kitty Hawk will work on gaining additional certification to begin commercial service via Cora.

This time around, though, Kitty Hawk's ambitions are bigger.

The aircraft uses self-flying software and 12 lift fans for a vertical take-off and landing, so a runway is not required. Once it's in the air, all those propellers provide more traditionally plane-like forward thrust.

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Range: Initially about 62 miles / about 100 kilometres. The cabin will seat two passengers.

Ride in a pilotless flying taxi, anyone?

"Christchurch is committed to becoming carbon neutral and we are embracing future technologies in the areas of future transport, future foods, Antarctica and space technology, technical adventure clothing, social enterprise - we are open for business and making strong strides in these areas".

"With our prototype air taxi Cora, we are applying eight years of research and development into an entirely new way to commute", said Kitty Hawk CEO Sebastian Thrun in a statement. Alphabet's own Waymo has been betting on putting autonomous vehicles on public roads, while Uber is hedging its bets with both autonomous driving options and air taxis, though both of those are still years away from being fully commercialized.

Hell, even Porsche is down with the idea of a flying vehicle. In fact, he told me he believes that it will leapfrog autonomous cars sometime in the next few years, mostly because when you take to the skies, there are actually fewer problems to solve in terms of building a self-piloting system than when you're locked to the ground, which naturally means you're having to deal with pedestrians, other cars and more, with one less dimension to navigate.