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Two self-driving passenger drones flying in the sky. 3D rendering image

Google Founder Funds Flying Taxis

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Consumers may eventually be able to order a flying taxi as they do an Uber after a company funded by Google founder Larry Page unveiled a secretive electric, self-flying aircraft called Cora.

Uber of the Skies

On Tuesday the company building the aircraft, Kitty Hawk, confirmed its existence after a report in the New York Times speculated about it.

The firm has been established in New Zealand where the government said it welcomed the project because it was potentially better for the environment than a traditional cab.

“We’ve got ambitious goals here in New Zealand. We want to get to net zero emissions by 2050 and that includes mobility,” said Dr Megan Woods, the country’s minister for research, science and innovation, in a promotional video.

Kitty Hawk said it was working with aviation regulators to get its fleet into the skies but did not put a date on when it would take off.

The aircraft is known as an eVTOL which stands for electric, vertical take-off and landing.

Cora looks like a cross between a small plane and a drone, with a raft of rotating blades spanning its wings that enable it to take off vertically like a helicopter but also fly straight like a plane.

Aircrafts Travels at 110mph

The aircraft can travel at speeds of up to 110mph and can do 100km on a single charge. It will eventually be available to customers as a service, “similar to an airline or a rideshare”, according to Kitty Hawk.

The flying taxi will use “self-flying software combined with human oversight”.

Kitty Hawk is run by technologist Sebastian Thrun, who is credited with establishing Google X, the search giant’s secretive research lab that focuses on “moonshot projects” — highly ambitious ventures with potential for great impact.

Thrun teamed up with Page, who has personally funded the flying taxi project.

The project, based in New Zealand, has been kept under wraps and only emerged after locals saw mysterious objects flying over the country’s South Island. The planes operate under a company called Zephyr Airworks.

Reports suggest that Page wants to start a network of autonomous flying cabs — the Uber of the skies.

Passenger Drones face Headwinds

But the passenger drone concept has failed to take off so far.

At the recent Consumer Electronics show, a people-carrying drone created by SureFly was cancelled due to light rain.

Dubai claimed it would introduce a self-flying taxi service in July 2017 but did not.

In September the company behind Dubai’s fleet, Volocopter, said it hoped the taxis would be operational within five years.

Consumers may be waiting a while for autonomous, flying transport.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alvexo on the matter.