Kitty Hawk Unveils VTOL Prototype

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Kitty Hawk, the California company that has been working on a “flying car” funded by Alphabet CEO Larry Page, has released a video of its newest autonomous VTOL prototype, which is now flying in New Zealand. The electric-powered aircraft, dubbed “Cora,” is driven by 12 rotors mounted fore and aft of the wing, plus a propeller at the tail. After taking off vertically, it transitions to horizontal flight. Each of the rotors can operate independently, the company says, for redundant safety, and the aircraft will also be equipped with a ballistic parachute. Cora can cruise at about 80 knots for up to 54 nautical miles. The aircraft is being developed by Zephyr Airworks, Kitty Hawk’s partner in New Zealand. Flight testing and first commercial flights are planned to take place in New Zealand.

Cora will operate using “self-flying software combined with human oversight,” according to the company’s new website, “to make flying possible for people without training.” The aircraft will not be sold to the public, but will be “part of a service similar to an airline or ride share.” Cora looks very similar to the prototype the company was flying in 2014 (a video of that early version was released in December). “We think this is the logical next step in the evolution of transportation,” Fred Reid, CEO of Zephyr, says in the new video. The company declined to release a timetable for deployment, saying, “We are looking forward to being able to share our product with the New Zealand public when the time is right.” According to the website, more aircraft are in development.

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Comments (3)

More Bravo Sierra about being emission free. The electricity still needs to be produces, the resins for the composites made in refineries and chemical processing plants, the carbon fiber cloth needs to be carburized and graphitized etc. All involve lots of energy and yes emissions.

Low emissions, maybe but emission free, the big advertising lie. If used in the US, it will essentially be a coal or natural gas burner. It is just that the emissions will take place in somebody else back yard.

Posted by: Leo LeBoeuf | March 13, 2018 11:08 AM    Report this comment

Way too many moving parts. The idea behind great engineering should be to "achieve simplicity".

Posted by: Ken Keen | March 13, 2018 1:56 PM    Report this comment

It is a eVTOL that limits its use it since Lithium batteries cannot be made denser to create more energy. They develop electronic stalactites which grow and cause shorts which makes the batteries explode. Lithium batteries have reached the maximum in their development.
Even fuel cells require hydrogen. The answer is that hydrogen propulsion is the fuel of the future by turning it into an incombustible polymer which protects the aircraft and its occupants from the volatility of the stored hydrogen. This technology is available today and has been tested. The polymer can be made to release the hydrogen by use of a catalyst.
Miles Garnett

Posted by: Miles Garnett | March 14, 2018 8:57 AM    Report this comment

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