In April last year, Google co-founder Larry Page publicly announced he was building an electric, flying car through a company called Kitty Hawk. A video showed a prototype aircraft flying over water, but it was unclear when it would be approved by regulators for anything more than a hobby.
Now, according to The New York Times, Kitty Hawk will on Tuesday announce it has reached an agreement with the government of New Zealand to test its aircraft in order to get officially certified for flying in the country.
This time around, though, Kitty Hawk’s ambitions are bigger. The company, which is operating in New Zealand through a company called Zephyr Airworks, has been in discussions with New Zealand regulators for a year and a half, and it hopes to start a commercial flying taxi service in as soon as three years. Bonus points: The Kitty Hawk taxis will be autonomous.
The report says Kitty Hawk is already working on a taxi-hailing app, and plans to run the entire operation itself. The 36-foot aircraft is called Cora and has 12 battery-powered rotors, with the ability to carry two passengers some 62 miles.
Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern confirmed the news to the Times, saying the project is “about sending the message to the world that our doors are open for people with great ideas who want to turn them into reality.”
Kitty Hawk is not the first company hoping to launch a fleet of autonomous flying taxis; in February, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said Uber plans a similar feat, but with a less ambitious timeline: 5-10 years. Airbus announced in October 2017 it’s testing an autonomous, self-flying electric vehicle as well, and other companies including Joby Aviations, Ehang and Bell Helicopter are working on similar projects.