While attention has been drawn to Uber's announcement of a flying taxi this week — another flying taxi service is already being tested on New Zealand soil in the Mackenzie Country.
Cora is one of the several aircraft taxi designs built by Kitty Hawk, an American electrical aircraft manufacturer. Kitty Hawk arrived in New Zealand in 2016 and begun testing the Cora air taxi design in 2018.
The "flying car" aircraft looks like a giant drone. It has 12 rotors and one large propeller at the rear of the aircraft allowing it to travel up to 180km/h.
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According to Stuff, almost 1000 test flights have been made between a base in Canterbury and one in the United States.
Additionally, Stuff revealed that the Cora aircraft won't have a pilot, Unlike the Uber air taxi concept, as it will be guided by self-flying software with "human supervision" on the ground — a similar concept to air traffic control.
While Uber revealed earlier this week their air taxi will launch in 2023, Kitty Hawk's Cora aircraft has not given any public launch dates yet.
They intend for New Zealand to be their launch country, depending on the continued support from the CAA and Government, as New Zealand is recognised for its safety-focused regulatory environment and a strong history of excellence in airspace management.
The makers of Cora claim it to be one of the safest aircraft to ever fly. The air taxi is equipped with independent rotors, so if one fails the aircraft can continue to fly on the others, three computers that can fly the aircraft, so if one fails another can take over, and in a last-case resort situation the air taxi is equipped with a parachute.
The team also revealed that the aircraft will be able to take off from rooftops just like helicopters can. The Cora will be able to take two people and cruise at an altitude of between 150m and 900m.
The business's website revealed that Zephyr Airworks, the operator of Cora, has been given full support from Air New Zealand — a partnership to bring the first-ever air taxi service to the sky.