Ever been stuck in a traffic jam, wishing you could take to the skies and leapfrog the gridlocked cars below?
German startup Lilium hopes that by 2025, it will let you do just that, after staging a successful maiden flight of a prototype five-seater flying taxi, capable of whisking passengers from place to place above the congested streets.
The all-electric, battery-powered aircraft took off in Munich earlier this month, marking the first successful voyage of a product Lilium claims will revolutionise urban travel.
“Today we are taking another huge step towards making urban air mobility a reality. In less than two years we have been able to design, build and successfully fly an aircraft that will serve as our template for mass production,” said Lilium’s chief exec Daniel Wiegand.
Lilium said a flight from New York’s JFK airport to central Manhatten would set a passenger back between $70 and $80, cutting a normally hour-long journey to just six minutes.
The taxi runs on battery power to operate 36 all-electric jet engines that face downward at take-off but then swing to power horizontal flight. More testing and work to win airworthiness certifications from European and US air safety regulators will follow.
The taxi will be capable of travelling up to 300km in 60 minutes, the company said.
The firm plans to manufacture and operate the jet as part of an on-demand air taxi service. At the push of a button, it hopes passengers will be able to use the an app to locate their nearest landing pad and plan their journey.
Lilium expects to be fully-operational in various – as yet unspecified – cities around the world by 2025, although trial services will start earlier than this in several locations.
But it may face stiff competition from Uber, which is also looking at an electric flying taxi service, while the likes of Airbus and Boeing are also putting money into researching electric flight systems.