Asia-Pacific

Flying cars could soon take to NZ skies

Air New Zealand and US-based flying car start-up Zephyr Airworks have announced an agreement to introduce self-piloted air taxis for New Zealanders.

New Zealanders could soon be able to hop onto self-piloted electric air taxis after national carrier Air New Zealand announced a cooperative agreement with California-based flying car start-up Zephyr Airworks.

The agreement with the operator of Cora, an aircraft that looks like a cross between an aeroplane and a drone, signals the intention to make autonomous, electric air travel a reality for all New Zealanders, the two companies said in a statement on Tuesday.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the airline wants to embrace new technologies that make life easier and use the potential of cleaner energy solutions for travel.

"Through the development of their autonomous electric air taxi Cora, the possibility of getting from A to B quickly and safely, and also relieving the impact of polluting emissions, is very real indeed." he added.

One day, everyday people across the globe would be be able to use air taxis, Zephyr Airworks Chief Executive Fred Reid promised.

"While we are not at that point yet, we are showing people what is possible," he added.

The aircraft has been developed by Kitty Hawk, a company backed by Google co-founder Larry Page and run by Sebastian Thrun, who previously led the development of Google's self-driving cars as director of Google X.

Cora's combination of electric power, self-piloting software and vertical take-off pioneers a new way to fly. The firm says the specialist software will make flying possible for people without training.

The company has secretly been testing their "flying cars" since October 2017 in the Canterbury region of New Zealand's South Island and presented them to the public in March.

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