The Kitty Hawk Corporation has been working to make the Cora Air Taxi a reality for several years. The vision was to provide a means of cutting down your commute times by flying over traffic rather than idling away your time and fuel stuck in grid lock. The electric, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft is meant to be a part of a transportation service, similar to a fleet of taxis. The vehicles are autonomous and can take off and land on rooftops or in any open space. Using 12 fans, the taxi takes off and lands like a helicopter, while a single propeller drives Cora to speeds of 110 miles per hour. It can reach altitude of 500 to 3,000 feet. It’s designed for two passengers.
Perhaps the most exciting news is that Kitty Hawk has partnered with Zephyr Airworks in New Zealand for its next phase. Zephyr is working with government, business, and local community leaders to make the air taxi available. Air New Zealand, which has signed an agreement with Kitty Hawk to build the world’s first autonomous air taxi service, CEO Christopher Luxon had this to say about the potential of Cora: “Both companies see the potential for our airspace to free people from the constraints of traffic and its associated social, economic and environmental impacts. Through the development of their autonomous electric air taxi Cora, the possibility of getting from A to B quickly and safely, and also relieving the impact of polluting emissions, is very real indeed.”
The roll out of the service will be a slow one. Initial flight testing was limited to just three times per week and only in the airspace over Hollister Airport. Cora has since been cleared for flights up to 5,000 feet either unmanned or with non-paying passengers aboard. Kitty Hawk has also partnered with Boeing to advance safe urban air mobility, and a 2017 investment from the Defense Innovation Unit Experiment, a part of the Pentagon, of $1 million shows even more interest in the aircraft.