WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND: Pilot-less flying taxis are being tested in New Zealand as part of a project backed by Google co-founder Larry Page that supporters say will revolutionise personal transport.
New Zealand regulators late Tuesday approved plans for Zephyr Airworks, a subsidiary of Page's company Kitty Hawk, to develop and test the futuristic air taxis. Known as Cora, the electric aircraft has a dozen small lift rotors on its wings, making it capable of vertical take-off and landing like a helicopter. But developers say it is much quieter, meaning it could transport passengers in urban areas using rooftops and car parks as landing pads.
"We are offering a pollution free, emission free vehicle that flies dependably, we think this is the logical next step in the evolution of transportation," Zephyr chief executive Fred Reid said. The Cora prototype being tested in New Zealand's South Island uses three on-board computers to calculate its flight path and is capable of carrying two passengers.
The computers operate independently as a safety measure and the aircraft can deploy a parachute if anything goes wrong. The aircraft, previously known as Zee.Aero, has a range of 100 kilometres (62 miles), reaching speeds of 150 kmh and an altitude of up to 900 metres (3,000 feet).
The Cora project envisages they will become so common that "air travel will be woven into our daily lives". Zephyr said using them would be a simple experience for