Silicon Valley Air-Taxi Company Brings Automated Flight to Australia
Autonomous flying-taxi developer Wisk Aero is expanding its global presence by opening an office in Australia and entering a formal partnership with a group of mayors there to support the rollout of advanced air mobility (AAM).
The memorandum of understanding Wisk signed with the Council of Mayors of South East Queensland calls for the two organizations to work toward bringing autonomous air-taxi service to the area, which includes Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city and host of the 2032 Summer Olympics.
“This new partnership is a great starting point for our expansion across Australasia,” Wisk’s Asia Pacific Regional Director, Catherine MacGowan, said. “Our work has the potential to accelerate the introduction of emissions-free aviation, help reduce transport-driven carbon emissions, and realize the benefits of AAM for the Queensland state economy and the wellbeing of its citizens.”
The 2032 Olympics will provide a prime publicity opportunity for the company, which says it will maintain a presence in Queensland for the long term. Wisk plans to hire an undisclosed number of personnel there and will work with local government to provide green-tourism and transportation solutions. In the short term, the company plans to display the fifth-generation of its self-flying, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi, Cora, in Brisbane in July.
“Council of Mayors kickstarted our Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games journey because we knew it would attract global businesses and innovative industries to our region, bringing with it new jobs and new economic opportunities,” Brisbane Mayor Adrian Schrinner said. “On the back of the Brisbane 2032 Games, we’re delighted to be working with Wisk to look at how South East Queensland can capitalize off the new jobs and economic opportunities associated with this new and exciting industry.”
The memorandum of understanding between Wisk and the Council of Mayors will nurture important relationships between the company and leaders of individual localities in South East Queensland, building an important bridge to the community as the company works to familiarize it with pilotless flight. The region is also an ideal testing ground for Cora, given its mix of urban, rural and beach environments, Schrinner said.
Wisk is not new to Australasia, having launched operations in New Zealand in 2016. Indeed, the country has been a key player in the development of Cora. In 2021, Wisk and the government conducted tests under the country’s Airspace Integration Trial Program, and the company recently completed a successful series of flight tests there. It has also partnered with the country’s national carrier, Air New Zealand, to explore opportunities for collaboration.