Online travel agency Kiwi.com has announced its investment in the project of Czech entrepreneur Michal Illich to make unmanned civilian flight transport a reality.
The investment will be used for the next developmental phase of the driverless and affordable plane Zuri, the second part of the project that looks to produce a functional prototype with a wing span of approximately 11 meters and weighing 900 kilograms.
This prototype will then be used to develop the ultimate concept of the aircraft using VTOL, or vertical take-off and landing, technology, referring to an aircraft that can take off, hover and land vertically.
Kiwi.com has been active in researching and developing innovative solutions for air and ground transport during the seven years of its existence and, according to the company, Zuri is its most exciting and forward-thinking venture yet.
Michal Illich, founder and chief executive of Zuri, said: “Thanks to this investment we will be able to continue building up the team as well as the development of the large prototype of this unique aircraft.
“Kiwi.com was the only company we approached for the investment in this phase, because we see huge potential for our cooperation.
“Kiwi.com has intimate knowledge of the future of travel demand and thanks to its popularity it will also be able to bring new solutions to the market of on-demand transportation, including mid-range VTOL flights.”
Kiwi.com, which specialises in virtual interlining people with flights of non-cooperating airlines through multiple modes of transport, said it sees the pioneering work of Illich’s brainchild ‘Zuri’ as “vital to offering travellers seamless transport of the future.”
Oliver Dlouhý, founder and chief executive of Kiwi.com said, added: “The Zuri project represents a direction that I see as key in the future of transport and our investment is testament of that.
“This segment is practically non-existent, although it is one of the critical elements in the first and last mile of transport.
“Intertwined with the global transportation network, it will bring completely new options for travelling, adding thousands of smaller cities into the airports’ catchment areas by extending these by the radius of up to 700 kilometres.
“The vision of Zuri is very close to our own and we are excited we can play a part in its development.
“We also believe that Kiwi.com will be among the first to offer this type of service within the global scope of our network.”