Kitty Hawk has signed an agreement with the New Zealand government to test its "Cora" autonomous flying taxis.
But now we know that Kitty Hawk had something more ambitious in the works: a small, electric aircraft called Cora, which flies horizontally like an airplane but has the capability to take off and land vertically.
Kitty Hawk has operated largely in secret until April 2017, led by Sebastian Thrun, who is also a founder of Google's self-driving auto program and online education service Udacity.
Kitty Hawk commended the country's forward-looking regulatory environment and vision. As an air taxi, Cora models wouldn't be for sale. There is also the capability for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) which looks like it can open transportation options ranging from commuter services to drone deliveries.
The technology, eight years in the making, had been searching for its own Kitty Hawk, where it could test "an air taxi, affectionately named Cora, that could take off like a helicopter and transition to flying like a plane", according to the release.
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The Cora already has experimental airworthiness certificates issued by both the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority, and the United States Federal Aviation Administration. Being electric, the air taxi is also "remarkably quiet", according to Eric Allison, Kitty Hawk's vice president of engineering.
Other countries, mostly in the Middle East and Africa, have been more aggressive about allowing unmanned flights and appear willing to be some of the first places where this technology will be used.
Mr Reid told New Zealand media that around 30 companies worldwide were working on similar projects, including Uber who has plans to roll out air taxi services in Los Angeles, Dallas and Dubai by 2020.
But developers say it is much quieter, meaning it could transport passengers in urban areas using rooftops and auto parks as landing pads. In November, Boeing acquired Aurora Flight Sciences.
It has been clear for several years that improvements in batteries, electric motors, and software would make it possible to build a vehicle like this.
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