Innovation

Autonomous flying taxi firm, backed by Google co-founder, unveils first plane

In 2016, Alphabet CEO Larry Page invested in Kitty Hawk, which is developing the Cora plane.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Kitty Hawk, an autonomous flying taxi company backed by Alphabet CEO Larry Page, unveiled its Cora commercial plane.
  • Kitty Hawk's Cora is completely autonomous, fully electric, and can travel at speeds of 93 mph.

Kitty Hawk, an autonomous flying taxi firm backed by Alphabet CEO and Google co-founder Larry Page, unveiled its prototype Cora air taxi on Monday. The plane's launch and test run were showcased in a YouTube video published by Kitty Hawk.

Business travelers are often frequent users of taxis and apps like Uber and Lyft. However, the advent of air taxis—especially with autonomous capabilities—could fundamentally change the way the world sees commuting and business travel forever.

In the video Eric Allison, the vice president of engineering for Cora, explained that the plane is 100% electric, and therefore emissions free. It can take off and land vertically, so it doesn't require a long runway to complete its flights.

SEE: IT leader's guide to the future of autonomous vehicles (Tech Pro Research)

Another key aspect of Cora's design is the volume at which it operates. Being that the plane is fairly quiet, it could help make the idea of flying taxis more appealing, being that city residents won't have to constantly be disturbed by the loud sounds of traditional planes.

According to the video, Cora can fly at speeds of 150 kmh (93 mph) and has a full range of 100 kilometers. The plane is also fully autonomous, so the passengers will not need a pilot's license to operate it.

Kitty Hawk is working with the government of New Zealand to use Cora as part of a commercial air taxi service, the video said. In the video, New Zealand's minister for science, research, and innovation, Megan Woods, said that Kitty Hawk's emissions-free plane fits in with the country's goal of getting to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Of course, Kitty Hawk isn't the only company doing such work. Velocopter is working on flying taxis in Dubai, Airbus recently had a flight test for its self-piloted flying car, and Uber is working with NASA on its flying taxis initiatives.

Also see

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Image: Kitty Hawk

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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