Kitty Hawk, one of the flying car startups backed by Google founder and Alphabet CEO Larry Page, announced that it’s partnering with Boeing to develop its semi-autonomous flying taxi. Specifically, Kitty Hawk will work with Boeing on its two-seater Cora flying vehicle, which it hopes to one day use for a semi-autonomous flying taxi service.
After a flurry of announcements last year that included the two-seater Cora, the single-seater Flyer, as well as a partnership with Air New Zealand, Kitty Hawk has been much quieter in recent months. Its aim is for Cora to one day provide a flying taxi service that can reportedly be summoned with an app. The plan is for the vehicle to not have a pilot on board; instead, it will be flown mainly by autopilot systems, with supervision from a human pilot situated remotely. It sounds like getting this system to work safely could be a key element of its partnership with Boeing since the company’s NeXt division is focused on ways for autonomous and piloted craft to share airspace safely.
Kitty Hawk has some high-profile competitors in the nascent flying taxi space. Most notably, Uber plans to start test flights of its own Uber Air service in 2020, with a commercial launch planned for 2023. The ride-sharing company announced that it’s working with five aerospace companies to build craft for the service, including one company that was purchased by Boeing back in 2017. A separate startup, Lilium, completed a test flight of its own five-seater aircraft earlier this year.