A California-based company unveiled an autonomous air taxi on Tuesday in Christchurch, with an eye on revolutionising personal air travel within the next decade.
The company Kitty Hawk, which operates as Zephyr Airworks in New Zealand, showed off the self-piloted electric aircraft, which looks like a cross between an aeroplane and a drone.
“This aircraft represents the evolution of the transport ecosystem to one that responds to a global challenge around traffic and congestion, and is kinder to the planet,” Christchurch’s mayor Lianne Dalziel said in a statement.
“This is a fully electric aircraft that rises into the air like a helicopter, flies like a plane and then lands again like a helicopter,” she explained.
The aircraft has been developed by Kitty Hawk, which is run by Sebastian Thrun, who previously led the development of Google’s self-driving cars as director of Google X.
The combination of electric power, self-piloting software and vertical take-off pioneers a new way to fly.
“Cora is the beginning of a journey towards everyday flight, where air travel will be woven into our daily lives,” the creators said in a statement.
The company has secretly been testing their “flying cars” since October 2017 in the Canterbury region of New Zealand’s South Island.
Kitty Hawk isn’t putting a timeframe around when Cora will be available for public flights.
Zephyr Airworks boss Fred Reid told local media there was “a really good shot of doing this in the relatively short future” and was striving to have limited services operating in New Zealand in the next three to six years.