Kitty Hawk Unveils Flying Taxi

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. lift off / lɪft ɔf, ɒf / (phrasal) – to fly into the air

    The new aircraft will lift off tomorrow for the first time.

  2. surveillance / sərˈveɪ ləns, -ˈveɪl yəns / (n) – monitoring of a situation or an area

    The management installed cameras all over the office for easier surveillance of suspicious activity.

  3. in the event of (something) / ɪn ði ɪˈvɛnt ʌv, ɒv / (idiom) – in case something happens

    In the event of an emergency, you may press the device’s emergency button.

  4. hand in hand / hænd ɪn hænd / (idiom) – to work in partnership with someone or something

    The government worked hand in hand with some organizations to help the typhoon victims.

  5. alleviate / əˈli viˌeɪt / (v) – to make things easier

    This app suggests activities that people can do to alleviate stress.


Read the text below.

US-based aviation company Kitty Hawk has revealed its self-piloted flying taxi called ‘Cora.’

The two-passenger flying car, which has been in the works for eight years, can fly as fast as 150 kilometers per hour. Because it lifts off and lands vertically, it does not require a runway. Cora operates through a self-flying software backed by human surveillance. In the event of power loss, a parachute will be available for emergency landing.

The flying taxi is 100% electric, which makes it emission-free. Because of this, New Zealand’s minister for research, science and innovation Megan Woods believes that Cora can help the country achieve its mission of having zero emissions by 2050.

Although no definite target date has been set for Cora’s official launch, Kitty Hawk CEO Sebastian Thrun said that the flying taxi might be able to officially operate within five years.

Currently, Kitty Hawk is working hand in hand with the New Zealand government in making the air taxis commercially available. The company is also reportedly developing an app that lets customers book flying taxis.

Aside from Cora, another flying taxi is in the works. Ridesharing app Uber is currently developing uberAIR—an app-based air taxi service that will cater to different cities in the United States and Dubai. The service, which is a collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), will utilize four-passenger flying cars.

Uber chief product officer Jeff Holden said that the service aims to alleviate traffic congestion.

The company plans to conduct its first trial run in 2020 in Dallas and Los Angeles. It  expects to launch its first batch of commercial flights by 2023.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What would convince you to try riding Cora and uberAIR? Explain.
• Do you think New Zealand’s aim of having zero emissions by 2050 is feasible through Cora? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you think that developing advanced technology can fully solve traffic congestion? Explain.
• What small steps can individuals and businesses take to deal with traffic congestion? Discuss.