Christchurch, New Zealand has become the home for the world’s first operational Flying Taxi service. While other places around the world are still in the preparation phase of testing similar operations, Christchurch has launched a test service.
The New York Times ran a prominent story last week about “flying taxis” being developed in New Zealand. A company called Kitty Hawk is reportedly testing “a new kind of fully electric, self-piloting flying taxi.” The company is being funded by Google co-founder Larry Page.
Aviation company Zephyr has unveiled Cora, which is designed to be a pilotless air-taxi.
A report confirmed that Kitty Hawk has been doing secret test runs of the flying taxi in “a quiet corner of Canterbury” since October. So it’s been able to stay under the radar, so to speak, for about six months.
Larry Page and his cohorts brought their project in New Zealand primarily because of strict US government regulations around autonomous vehicles. But I bet it was also nice to escape the breathless hype prevalent in Silicon Valley.
To our government’s credit, it has been responsive to Kitty Hawk’s needs and flexible about where this may lead. The New York Times reported that the government has “reached an agreement to test Kitty Hawk’s autonomous planes as part of an official certification process.”
If this pans out, New Zealand will be the first country in the world to have a commercial network of flying taxis. This could be as little as six years away, although I’d take that prediction with a grain of salt. Autonomous vehicles have yet to be fully regulated anywhere in the world, including New Zealand.
Paul Gordon is the publisher and editor of iState.TV. He has published and edited newspapers, poetry magazines and online weekly magazines.
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