Germany's Lilium says successfully tests 'flying taxi' prototype

Apr 22, 2017, 00:20
Germany's Lilium says successfully tests 'flying taxi' prototype

The news of Lilium's maiden voyage comes soon after Airbus presented its concept for a flying vehicle at Geneva Motor Show, with plans to test it later this year. The company announced Thursday it has tested its all-electric flying vehicle, Lilium Jet, in Germany.

Lifting off from an airfield in Germany, Lilium Aviation's Jet Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL), zero-emission, electric Eagle prototype has completed its maiden flight.

"Seeing the Lilium Jet take to the sky and performing sophisticated maneuvers with apparent ease is testament to the skill and perseverance of our incredible team".

Lilium's CEO Daniel Wiegand said the company had solved some of the "toughest engineering challenges in aviation" with the design.

In the recent tests, the two-seater prototype executed a range of complex manoeuvres, and Lilium is now developing a larger, five-seater version of the Jet, designed for on-demand air taxi and ride-sharing services.

The Lilium Jet is, ironically, not actually a jet.

The 5-seater jet to be developed by the company is expected to travel at least five times faster than a auto, with improved efficiency in busy cities. They give the example of a flight from Manhattan to New York's JFK Airport in about 5 minutes, compared to 55 minutes by vehicle.

The jet, whose power consumption per kilometer is comparable to that of an electric auto, could offer passenger flights at prices comparable to those of normal taxis but with speeds five times faster, Lilium said.

Powering the small jet are 36 small engines mounted inside the wings. Lilium says that its electric battery enables the aircraft to reach a maximum cruising speed of 300 kph (183 mph) and achieve a range of 300 kilometers (183 miles), all while it "consumes around 90 percent less energy than drone-style aircraft", according to a recent press release.

Flying cars might just take the cake as the most overused symbol of an idealized future - one that always seems vague and far off.

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