‘Blade Runner’ is reality? Two flying taxi startups get Pentagon funding

Kitty Hawk’s flying taxi, known as Cora, can be seen in the image above.

(Kitty Hawk)

Two startups focused on building the world’s first flying taxis to the funding of the U.S. army.

Kitty Hawk and Joby Aviation will receive nearly $2 million from the Defence Innovation Experimental Unit (DIUx), the Pentagon commercial tech hub that has outposts in Silicon Valley, Austin and Boston.

The website for Cora, Kitty Hawk’s experimental air taxi, claiming that it was “like a dream” and “the journeys you make each day, those who determine our lives.” The California-based firm has plans for planes that could hold two passengers and will fly between 500 and 3000 meters above the ground.


The DIUx ‘ s plan for the small electric appliances is less ‘Back to the Future’—everyone remembers the time traveling DeLorean and more ‘Blade Runner’, according to a document obtained by the Guardian. This reads as follows: “These vehicles will … provide niche opportunities for specific tactical applications with a low acoustic signature, in the near instant start/stop, ability to spread an attack force across multiple vehicles, and automated systems.”

Kitty Hawk received funding from the Pentagon for its work on the flying taxis.

(Kitty Hawk)

Joby Aviation received $970,000 of DIUx at the beginning of last year, promises on its site to solve the problems of emissions from transport by “providing safe and affordable air travel to everyone.” The company is not hurting for cash, have secured $100 million in Series B funding in February.

Kitty Hawk received a $1 million shortly thereafter, according to a site that tracks government contracts.

DIUx is involved in a wide range of areas that are aimed at expanding the Pentagon’s technical capabilities, while also introducing efficiency could save the agency money in the time.

The under-the-radar department recently tapped retired air force Colonel Michael Madsen as the new head of operations in Washington, D. C. Madsen, who flew C-17’s and worked on legal matters for the air force, recently touted one project with the Air Force, Combined Operations Center, which reportedly saved $137 million per year.

“I think DIUx is so focused on building that relationship with Silicon Valley tech companies, which has been critical, but what they have missed is the telling of the story, especially the return-on-investment story, to the Hill and in the building,” Madsen told Defense News.

Even an award granted by DIUx Army will use machine learning to predict when the components on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle will fail or need maintenance.

Christopher Carbone is a reporter and news editor covering science and technology for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @christocarbone.

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular