Zephyr Airworks has confirmed that it will develop and trial its air taxi Cora in New Zealand, after almost 8 years of engineering. Cora is an air taxi designed and built by Kitty Hawk. It combines electric power, self-piloting software and vertical take-off to pioneer an entirely new way to fly. Cora is the beginning of a journey towards everyday flight, where air travel will be woven into our daily lives. For more information see the IDTechEx report on electric UAV drones.
Cora rises like a helicopter and flies like a plane, eliminating the need for a runway and creating the possibility of taking off from places like rooftops. Cora will use self-flying software combined with human oversight to make flying possible for people without training.
Zephyr chief executive Fred Reid said he met with New Zealand universities last year as the company wants to hire local New Zealanders. Speaking at a transport technology conference in Auckland on Monday, Reid said the manufacturing of Zephyr's flying taxis could also be based in New Zealand and the company is seeking component suppliers here, he said.
Dr Peter Crabtree of New Zealand's Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) saw the opportunity immediately. "In New Zealand, we know we can't keep using the same old approaches to meet our future challenges. We saw Cora's potential as a sustainable, efficient and transformative technology that can enrich people's lives, not only in New Zealand, but ultimately the whole world."
Airways New Zealand, the air navigation services provider, will develop a nationwide unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) traffic management system, known as UTM, to manage drone flights across New Zealand airspace whilst integrating these vehicles safely into the national air traffic network, according to the company.
Airways CEO Graeme Sumner says, "There is no doubt that technology is evolving and Airways' role is to enable safe and flexible access to our airspace to allow these new industries to thrive. New Zealand's regulatory environment and relatively uncongested airspace make us an attractive option for new operators. We are looking for ways to safely support more complex operations and facilitate new entrants, including the Zephyr Airworks' autonomous aircraft, into our skies."
Cora has had trial flights in the South Island with operations based around the city of Christchurch.
Sources: Cora, Kittyhawk, Airways
Top image: Cora