With test flight, German company inches closer to flying taxi service
It might seem like something out of The Jetsons or a sci-fi flick, but an aerospace company in Germany has unveiled a prototype it hopes will one day make the flying car a reality.
The Munich-based Lilium released a video on Wednesday of its five-seater air taxi's first test flight. Complete with 36 fully electric engines, the aircraft can be seen in the video rising off the ground and hovering in the air while the employees celebrate.
The plan is for the aircraft to one day work as a taxi that flies through the air at roughly the same cost as a traditional taxi.
“This is the next step of mobility as we perceive it,” Lilium co-founder Matthias Meiner said in the video.
“First flights are always crucial, but the launch, of course for us, is just a small piece in this whole process.”
The company hopes to mass produce the aircraft by 2025 and envisions it would operate under an Uber-style app in which people would connect to the planes at different landing pads around the city.
Lilium isn’t the only company pushing to be the first to produce a flying car, however. Last month, the Chinese drone company Ehang gave journalists in Austria an up-close look at its version, which looks like a giant drone and can travel up to 35 kilometres on a single charge.
In January, the U.S. aerospace company Bell unveiled its version of the air taxi which it plans to make available through Uber in the next decade. Their model is a four-seater with six giant fans that can tilt depending on where you want to go.
Google co-founder Larry Page is also interested in the air taxi industry, having invested in three separate such companies.
The companies say they will be a greener option for people travelling in urban centres and will help ease congestion on the roads, but it’s still unclear how these aircraft will be regulated.