The concept of ‘flying cars’ was once restricted to the realm of science fiction. Now a German aeronautics firm has taken a big step towards making it a reality.
Lilium Aviation has successfully tested its all-electric vertical take-off-and-landing (VTOL) jet, stealing a march on rivals in the race to deliver the world’s first ‘flying car.’
Propelled by its 36 jet engines, the two-seater VTOL can reach a cruising speed of 300kph (186mph) and maintain that speed for an hour on a single charge.
The firm, which has backing from Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, tested the aircraft’s take-off-and-landing capabilities as well as its ability to hover and perform short flights.
The test paves the way for Lilium to achieve its ultimate goal of developing an on-demand air taxi.
In a statement the company said: “We have solved some of the toughest engineering challenges in aviation to get to this point.”
Lilium is not the only firm developing flying car technology, however.
Airbus, German firm E-Volo and Boston-based Terrafugia have all been working on similar projects in recent years with designs ranging from rotor-based ‘multicopters’ to part-car, part-plane hybrids. Taxi company Uber also plans to bring together engineers at its Elevate Summit in Dallas, Texas, to discuss the future of air travel.