Forget black cars. Google co-founder Larry Page just unveiled a new way to roll up to a party in style and it’s giving us some serious James Bond Vibes.
Meet “Cora”, the fully autonomous electric “air taxi” that flies like a helicopter at speeds of up to 177 kilometers per hour (110 miles per hour), transporting up to two people between 150 meters and 915 meters (500 and 3,000 feet) above ground.
Page’s firm Kitty Hawk released a video late Monday announcing its plans to undergo a certification process from both the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). If approved, the passenger-drone system would be legal.
The whole affair was a bit spy-worthy in itself. Last year, New Zealanders started noticing these vehicles flying about the sky, reports CNBC. Kitty Hawk confirmed they have been “secretly” conducting testing under the cover of another company, Zephyr Airworks, for eight years.
With a wingspan of 11 meters (36 feet), the all-electric Cora uses a propeller at the back to fly up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) at a time. Twelve independent electric lift fans enable the plane-drone hybrid to take off and land vertically like a helicopter, eliminating the need for runways.
“Cora has the potential to transform spaces like rooftops and parking lots into places to take off right from your neighborhood,” said Kitty Hawk.
Three independent flight computers calculate Cora’s location, so if there is an issue with one, then Cora can still navigate. And if all else fails, a parachute launches if Cora needs to land without its fans.
It’s not the first transport system that appears to be straight out of a science fiction novel. Last fall, Boeing lined up to buy autonomous flight company Aurora, and Dubai started testing a drone taxi service. Uber has also announced its plans to launch Elevate, an app-based vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
Last year, Kitty Hawk showed off a new, all-electric aircraft that was specifically designed to fly over water.
Kitty Hawk says they’re not sure when Cora will be available to escort you to the nearest shindig. They also haven’t yet set a price tag on the service.
“We are not putting timeframes around when Cora will be available for public flight. We have a lot of work to do and we are working constructively with regulatory authorities," said the company. "We are looking forward to being able to share our product with the New Zealand public when the time is right."