Wisk has reached an agreement to launch a trial of its autonomous electric taxi service, according to the New Zealand government. The memorandum of understanding between the government and Wisk is the first of its kind and will see autonomous taxis taking to the skies in the Canterbury region.
- The all-electric, self-flying taxi called Cora has been in testing in the area since 2017.
- Since then it has logged over 1,000 flights; allowing passengers on flights is the next step in the process.
- Wisk hopes this will help it eventually reach a wider market.
The Cora has been testing in Canterbury for several years, just without passengers. (Photo: Wisk)
From Drones to Air Taxis
New Zealand Is fully embracing the idea of innovation in aviation from drones to autonomous taxis. In July 2019, it released a paper called Taking Flight, which outlined its plan for integrating drone traffic into the current aviation system. The goal is to be at the forefront of this technology rather than playing catch-up and making regulations in reaction to new developments.
Last October, New Zealand went a step further and established the Airspace Integration Trials Program with Wisk announced as its first partner. The aim of the program is to encourage the safe testing and development of unmanned aircraft and increase the rapidity of their deployment into the aviation network.
Cora is a two-seater, vertical takeoff and landing vehicle (VTOL) that takes off like a helicopter and then flies like a plane. There’s no need for a runway so landing where there’s not a lot of space isn’t an issue. It has a range of 25 miles with a speed of 100 mph. Wisk sees this as being like other ride-hailing services, with flights summoned through an app on your phone.
WHY THIS MATTERS
While autonomous cars are what most people associate with future mobility, there are also options that take to the sky. Flying, autonomous, electric taxis will not only reduce air pollution, they’ll reduce street congestion making getting where you need to go a more relaxing experience.