Two start-ups leading the race to build the first self-flying taxis are using money from the US military.
Last year, Kitty Hawk and Joby Aviation received a total of nearly $2m from the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), a Pentagon organization founded to help America’s military make faster use of emerging technologies. Neither company, nor the DIUx, disclosed the funding at the time.
The website for Cora, Kitty Hawk’s experimental air taxi, emphasizes its role in solving urban transportation challenges: “Cora is about the time you could save soaring over traffic. The people you could visit. The moments that move you.”
The DIUx’s vision for small electric aircraft is less Back to the Future and more Blade Runner, according to a document that detailed the personal aerial vehicles funding program. It reads: “These vehicles will … offer a niche capability for specific tactical applications with a low acoustic signature, near instantaneous start/stop, ability to spread an assault force across multiple vehicles, and automated systems.”