Google Co-Founder Larry Page invested heavily in a very secretive company called Kitty Hawk, run by Google X's former executive Sebastian Thrun, and now the self-piloting flying taxis that the company has been working on are ready to be revealed to the public. It takes off vertically like a helicopter and then flies horizontally at fairly high speeds like an airplane.
Dubbed "Cora", the vehicle can "take off like a helicopter and transition to flying like a plane", Kitty Hawk said in a statement on Monday.
Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel says the project is a flawless fit with the city's commitment to becoming carbon neutral. Being electric, the air taxi is also "remarkably quiet", according to Eric Allison, Kitty Hawk's vice president of engineering. Kitty Hawk CEO Sebastian Thrun (who previously ran Google's self-driving auto project), said the first thing officials asked was how they could make the regulatory process faster for Kitty Hawk.
The prototype can carry two passengers.
Due to its relative isolation from other nations and long stretches of uninhabited land, New Zealand is the flawless testing ground for Kitty Hawk to prove its tech works without getting in the way of commercial planes or endangering people on the ground.
She said Canterbury was the right location due to its physical environment.
"We had no idea what to expect", he said.
Today also marked the launch of the Innovative Partnership programme which aims to attract future-focused global innovators and firms to undertake Research and development (R&D) and develop their products in New Zealand.
Negotiations between Kitty Hawk and the New Zealand government have been going on for about 18 months, with multiple government agencies pledging to "streamline" the process of approval for a flying-taxi trial, according to Stuff.
New Zealand is truly the nexus point for fantasy lovers and futurists' dearest dreams.
"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", said Peter Crabtree from the country's business and innovation ministry.