Every time we hear about a flying car, we can’t help but compare it to childhood clichés: The Jetsons and their tiny 4-seater flying saucer, hovering taxis from The Fifth Element, or the wing-sprouting jalopy from the 1968 musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
But, flying cars are more than just a fantasy now. Dubai is gearing up for the world’s first drone taxi service, Uber has hired NASA engineers to build its own version of the flying car, Airbus has unveiled its futuristic flying pod concept and now, Munich-based startup Lilium Aviation has successfully tested its flying vehicle.
Named Lilium Jet, the German startup is calling this the "world’s first entirely electric vertical take-off and landing jet" and the company has just successfully tested their first full scale prototype. More than 40 designers and engineers have worked on the Lilium Jet project, which gets us one step closer to the fantasy of a sky full of cars.
The Lilium jet houses 36 propellers, mounted on 10-meter long wings with 12 flaps that help in its vertical take-off and wing-borne flight. The flying car can currently gain speeds of up to 300 Kph and can seat five passengers at a time. It has a range of 300 Kms on a single charge and the company claims it can complete a flight from London to Paris in one hour.
Lilium aims that the jet will one day be used as an on-demand taxi service. The company’s mission statement says, “You won’t have to own one, you will simply pay per ride and call it with a push of a button. It’s our mission to make air taxis available to everyone and as affordable as riding a car.” The startup also tells The Verge that the service will be a low-cost one and will not be ridiculously expensive as other modes of air travel in the future. “The concept is that we are lifting with our wings as soon as we progress into the air with velocity, which makes our airplane very efficient. Compared to other flights, we have extremely low power consumption,” Patrick Nathen, co-founder of Lilium Jet told the publication.
Further, Lilium also notes that it is working with leading mobility service providers to deliver a seamless user experience from booking through to landing. While this affordable, non polluting flying car is now a reality, current aerial transportation systems are not equipped to handle the challenging task of traffic management in the skies. There are also no certain policies or checks in place for these vehicles which bring with them a utopian promise, one which was only a flight of fancy offered by science fiction till now. Watch the Lilium Jet in action below.