Aerospace firm Boeing has announced plans to work on self-flying taxis with an American start-up backed by Google co-founder Larry Page.

The company will collaborate with Kitty Hawk on future efforts to advance safe urban air mobility, with a focus on providing its aerospace expertise to help build its autonomous electric vehicle called Cora.

"Working with a company like Kitty Hawk brings us closer to our goal of safely advancing the future of mobility," said Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing's Next division.

"We have a shared vision of how people, goods and ideas will be transported in the future, as well as the safety and regulatory ecosystem that will underpin that transportation."

Cora, which is slated to launch as early as 2021, will land and takeoff vertically.

Boeing just released test flight video of its autonomous air vehicle lifting off:

When first announced, Kitty Hawk said it combines electric power, self-piloting software and vertical takeoff to pioneer an entirely new way to fly. Cora will be powered by 12 lift fans spread across its wings with a single propeller for horizontal flight.

The aircraft is expected to achieve a maximum speed of 180km/h, cruising at an altitude of around 914 metres.

"Kitty Hawk was started to advance technology in flight and bring new innovations to life," said Sebastian Thrun, co-founder and chief executive of Kitty Hawk.

"I am excited about our companies working together to accelerate making safe electric flight a reality."

The site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash of 2014. Picture: Reuters
The site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash of 2014. Picture: Reuters
Relatives of crash victims demonstrate during a hearing on the status of the Boeing 737 MAX on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 19, 2019. Picture: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Relatives of crash victims demonstrate during a hearing on the status of the Boeing 737 MAX on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 19, 2019. Picture: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The announcement comes as Boeing's 737 Max remain grounded with aviation officials still hesitant on whether or not the popular Max jets should fly again. The planes have been grounded since mid-March following two fatal crashes.

Boeing is trying to restore the trust of customers and the public by completing a software fix for the planes after investigators implicated honed in on a problematic anti-stall software program involved in both crashes.

The new software is yet to be approved.


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