To anyone who hasn't made acquaintance with Kitty Hawk, it's a rather secretive startup backed by Google's co-founder Larry Page that aims to building novel aerial vehicles (and it's a Northern California town where the Wright Brother's first took flight).
And Cora is the company's latest commercial plane prototype that aims to improve future urban aerial travel. As demonstrated in the demo video, Cora carries a series of rotor blades along both wings to power vertical take off and maintain elevation. A main motor at the back provides forward propulsion when in air. It runs solely on electricity with a top speed of 150Km/h and 100km in range.
Cora's test flights have been conducted in New Zealand as a covert project under a company called Zephyr Airworks , as Kitty Hawk failed to get certification from US authorities. On the other hand, the New Zealand government saw it as an opportunity for advancing commercialization of autonomous air taxi network before many other developed countries, who have stricter regulations over testing novel aircrafts.
"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.
Kitty Hawk's had previously released a manned aircraft "Flyer" , which sports eight battery-powered propellers for an aero-aquatic experience. It obtained FAA certification as an ultralight aircraft that requires no pilot license to operate.
As many other players are advancing unmanned air travel (Uber with Uber Elevate, Volocopter backed by Intel and Daimler), the unveiling of Cora sets a firm step for future commercialization. Currently Kitty Hawk is actively working with the New Zealand government to roll out "a commercial air taxi service".