Self-piloted air taxi takes to sky in New Zealand

Testing of world-first self-piloted air taxi in Canterbury

Kitty Hawk is run by former Google X head Sebastian Thrun, while Cora's initial blog post makes out New Zealand as its base to make a future "where the freedom of flight belongs to everyone" in the same way that the Wright Brothers initially took off in North Carolina. The company, which is backed by Alphabet's Larry Page, has been working on "an aircraft so personal it could weave the freedom of flight into our daily lives" since 2010.

"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.

Kitty Hawk, which has so far only demonstrated its piloted recreational hovercraft (a luxury item created to help it spur development of its autonomous air taxis) has been testing its autonomous electric passenger aircraft, which resembles a small plane with variable rotors that can go from a vertical alignment for take-off and landing, to a horizontal one for flying like an ordinary plane through the skies.

Storm brushes area with a little snow overnight into Tuesday
Another shot of chilly air drags temperatures back down Friday , with highs only in the upper 30s to near 40 degrees. Spring officially begins next Tuesday , March 20, at 12:15 p.m. with the arrival of the vernal equinox.

Mr Johns says it is fitting that this part of the world hosts the trials of the electric self-piloting air taxi.

Cora is capable of traveling at up to 110mph (180km/s) with a range of 62 miles (100km) carrying two passengers. We first saw the news via The New York Times. A human test pilot took control of the proof of concept flyer last August and, after reaching agreements for the development and testing of the project with the government of New Zealand in October 2017, the first self-flying air taxi was shipped over. It's been testing the vehicles through a local operator called Zephyr Airworks, and Cora has an "experimental airworthiness certificate" from both New Zealand and United States aviation authorities. And now Kitty Hawk has officially launched the Cora project, and begun the journey to commercialization.

Flight tests soon followed under an experimental airworthiness certificate from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority and the United States Federal Aviation Administration.

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