As a child, we often dreamed about what the future would bring. Most of the time, it would be inspired by those futuristic cartoons that show off an entirely different society where buildings are different, clothes are weird, and flying cars zipping through the sky.
We are in an era where technology is evolving more rapidly, sometimes faster than we can comprehend, but it’s certainly making waves in our society. Today, the future we once dreamt is coming closer to reality, and I’m not just talking about 5G or third-gen foldable phones (pun intended), I’m talking about flying cars.
A Germany-based startup company named Lilium recently released their newest flight test video of a flying car, and I can’t help but be amazed at how far we’ve come at developing the technology that requires small compact vehicles lift off from the ground.
Arguably, it’s nowhere near a helicopter, for good reasons. First of all, the Lilium flying car is entirely powered by electricity. Second, it has no tail, rudder, propellers, or gearbox that emits those deafening sounds. Third, it looks futuristic – better than how my childhood self could have imagined.
On a more serious note, the Lilium Jet is a 5-seater vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air taxi that is set to change the way we perceive mobility.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No. But we first need to appreciate the simplicity and design of the Lilium Jet. It is an egg-shaped air taxi perched on two horizontal tilt-rotor wings that just screams future!
Overall, there are 36 electric jet engines that tilt up for vertical takeoff and then shift forward for horizontal flight. It has a maximum of 2,000 horsepower that the company promises to take you from city to city with style.
Lilium claims that their air taxi can reach a top speed of 300 km/h and a range of 300 km and would easily last an hour-long flight, which are pretty impressive and ambitious numbers compared to its other competitors like EHang’s drone-like craft or other tilt-rotor designs from Airbus and Uber.
According to the company, they will be making it possible through innovations in their tilt-rotor wings. Basically, the wings will not only be present to provide holding spots for their electric engines but will also serve as a lift when cruising in the air like an airplane. In essence, when enough air is present, it will only need to use 10% of the available horsepower to make it glide across the sky or operate it completely for an hour.
The Lilium Jet’s also promising to carry five people at a time including a pilot and luggage. The company has not explicitly indicated a weight capacity for their upcoming Lilium Jets given that weight plays a vital role in air flight. More especially that they’re on the electric perspective of getting these things up in the air.
But don’t fret just yet, Lilium’s brand is all about getting everyone to fly anywhere and anytime. Meaning, the groundbreaking technology they’re developing for air mobility isn’t just reserved for the snotty rich to access.
In an example, people can fly from Midtown Manhattan across JFK International Airport in under an hour for the incredibly low price of $70! That’s certainly much affordable than renting out a helicopter out of the city, which has never been a practical choice. But with Lilium Jet, that might start to change.
Moreover, Lilium’s services will be available through an Uber-like application where you can book a ride on the nearest landing pad to your desired location.
As of now, guessing from their latest business plan, they won’t be able to get you door-to-door mainly because of restrictions from government policies. It’s not irrational, though. Imagine getting cut off by a vehicle coming from the sky; it’s not ideal, especially with the technology that’s still on the very early stages of development.
However, this only leads us to believe that flying cars are part of the near future and that air taxis are only just the beginning of a society we all used to only dream about! According to Lilium, they will be ready to send mass Lilium Jets across different cities in 2025.