Google Begins Testing 'Pilotless' Flying Taxis That Can Reach 93MPH
The pilotless aircraft, known as Cora, will fly with the help of its small lift rotors
The flying car, once a distant 'sci-fi dream' of the future, may now become reality as pilotless taxis are being tested as part of a new project backed by search giant Google.
Zephyr Airworks, a subsidiary of Page's company Kitty Hawk, is in the process of testing and developing airborne taxis in New Zealand.
The pilotless aircraft, known as Cora, will fly with the help of its small lift rotors on its wings, giving it a vertical take-off and landing capability similar to a drone or helicopter.
Developers claim that ' Cora' will be much quieter than a helicopter and will, of course, have no pilot. Project developers also claim that craft will be able to transport passengers to urban areas such as rooftops and landing pads.
DailyStar reports: Zephyr chief executive Fred Reid said: “We are offering a pollution free, an emission-free vehicle that flies dependably, we think this is the logical next step in the evolution of transportation.”
The Cora prototype being tested uses three onboard computers to calculate its flight path and is capable of carrying two passengers.
The computers operate independently of each other for safety and the aircraft can deploy a parachute if anything goes wrong.
The aircraft, previously known as Zee.Aero, can travel 62 miles and reach speeds of 93mph and an altitude of 3,000 feet.
The Cora project envisages they will become so common that "air travel will be woven into our daily lives".
Zephyr said using them would be a simple experience for passengers.
"You wouldn't have to know anything about flying a plane. Cora could fly for you," the company said.
"And it would be all-electric, helping to build a sustainable world."
The aircraft will not be offered for sale, instead, the public must book trips like they would with an airline or taxi service.
Zephyr said it would operate in a similar fashion to a car ride-share – like Uber – and is working on an app so customers could hail the air taxis on their mobile phones.
Reid said local officials embraced the idea.
"We had no idea what to expect," he said.
"They could have laughed us out of the room. We were pitching something that sounded like science fiction."
Trialing the flying taxi service will take six years, with operations based around the city of Christchurch.
Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel said: "This aircraft represents the evolution of the transport ecosystem to one that responds to a global challenge to traffic and congestion, and is kinder to the planet.”