14 Mar 2018

Flying taxis to be trialled in New Zealand

11:27 am on 14 March 2018

A network of self-piloted, flying taxis will be trialled in New Zealand, in a partnership with the government.

The air taxi, Cora, will be trailled in New Zealand.

The air taxi, Cora, will be trailled in New Zealand. Photo: Supplied

Airways, New Zealand's air navigation service provider confirmed the trial and said it will develop a nationwide unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) traffic management system which will integrate the flying taxis.

The New York Times reported that a company funded by Google's co-founder Larry Page, Zephyr Airworks, has been testing the drone-like electric aircraft called Cora in the South Island, and that the company will today make a joint announcement with the Prime Minister about the next phase.

The aim now is to gain aviation certification for the flying taxis.

The New York Times article quotes an email from Jacinda Ardern as saying New Zealand wants to send "a message to the world that our doors are open for people with great ideas".

It notes this country may have been chosen because it has what's described as "a thoughtful and safety-conscious regulatory regime".

Airways chief executive Graeme Sumner said the company's role is to adapt to new technology and provide safe and flexible access to local airspace to allow new industries to thrive.

"New Zealand's regulatory environment and relatively uncongested airspace make us an attractive option for new operators," he said.

"We are looking for ways to safely support more complex operations and facilitate new entrants, including the Zephyr Airworks' autonomous aircraft, into our skies."