Image via Lilium
Who wouldn’t want a flying car?
Imagine zooming past your best friend’s place and picking them up for a midnight Maccas run in your new flying vehicle. This idea is coming more of a reality as German company Lilium have just successfully tested the first electric VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) jet. Looks like Google and Uber have missed first dibs on that feat.
The Munich-based start-up, backed by investors who include Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, have stated their two-seater Eagle prototype was successful in executing a variety of difficult maneuvers, “including its signature mid-air transition from hover mode to wing-borne forward flight.”
Lilium co-founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand said they have solved “some of the toughest engineering challenges in aviation to get to this point.”
“The successful test flight programme shows that our ground-breaking technical design works exactly as we envisioned. We can now turn our focus to designing the five seater production aircraft.”
The five-seater aims to introduce air-taxi and ride-sharing services. The company claims their jets are five times faster than a car, and are especially efficient in busy cities. They compared a flight from Manhattan to New York’s JFK Airport, which will take around 5 minutes by Lilium jet unlike the 55 minutes it would take by car.
The machine’s electric battery “consumes around 90% less energy than drone-style aircraft”, a much better alternative for the environment, and allows the jet to “achieve a range of more than 300 km with a maximum cruising speed of 300 km/h.”
Flying transport seems to be the image of the modern world. With electric aviation still in its early stages, battery consumption is an issue. However, Patrick Nathen, co-founder of Lilium Jet and the startup’s head of calculation and design, believes their battery technology will change the game.
“It’s the same battery that you can find in any Tesla,” Nathen explained to The Verge. “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.”
Lilium are working towards having the crafts be auto-piloted. However, in the meantime pilots will have the ‘Flight Envelope Protection System’, which prevents the pilot from endangering themselves beyond safe flight parameters.
The aircraft will be designed to function in highly dense, urban areas. Imagine being able to whip out your smartphone and call for a flying car, like Uber. Anything is possible with the right technology. You can watch the footage of the world’s first all-electric jet below.