German startup to offer electric air taxis 'by 2025'

Lilium, which showed a prototype "air taxi" in 2018, says it will offer prices similar to regular taxis but will be fo
Lilium, which showed a prototype "air taxi" in late 2018, says it will offer prices similar to regular taxis but will be four times faster

German startup firm Lilium announced Thursday the maiden flight of its all-electric pilotless jet-powered 'air taxi' which it hopes to operate in various cities around the world 'by 2025'.

The five-seater prototype could face skies crowded with competition, as other startups and giants like Airbus, Boeing or Uber are also tinkering away on their own projects—with an eye on transforming .

But with challengers' rotor-powered fliers offering only a limited range, Lilium believes its jet-style aircraft can set itself apart from the pack.

While it can take off vertically like a helicopter, it also sports wings for horizontal flight, allowing a top speed of 300 kilometres (186 miles) per hour and a range of 300 km.

Both Airbus and Boeing's models have a range of up to 50 miles.

Controlled from the ground, the Bavaria-based firm's first flew in Munich at the start of May—although Lilium did not say exactly how long it was airborne.

"While a maiden flight is always a moment of truth for a business, the jet performed exactly as expected and responded well," said Leandro Bigarella, Lilium's head of flight test in a statement.

The five-seater jet follows on the heels of the firm's two-seater prototype, which successfully flew in 2017.

Lilium hopes to offer "on-demand air taxi service" in "various cities around the world by 2025", with trials beginning sooner.

Believing they'll encounter "demands for urban air travel that is quiet, safe and environmentally positive," the company will offer an app to let passengers find nearby landing pads for a they claim will be "comparable in price with a taxi, yet four times faster".

Offering a larger cabin than competitors is key, with five seats making for "an economy of scale you just can't achieve with two," said co-founder and chief executive Daniel Wiegand.

Air taxi hopefuls will also have to hack through a forest of regulations, safety concerns and public scepticism to build a sustainable business.

But the US-based Aerospace Industries Association predicted in March that with future artificial intelligence at the controls, the aircraft "will be a part of everyday commutes" by 2050.


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User comments

May 16, 2019
Electric Flighty Cars

Before we start jumping with glee
no traffic jams, no road blocks
Germany drives on the wrong side of the road
as everyone is right eyed, the best place for your right eye is in the middle of the road
consequently Germans are at a disadvantage when driving compared to we Britain's
as we drive on the left, our right eye is in the middle of the road
as Germans drive on the wrong side of the road, the right
but
What have cars got do with flighty cars we hear you ask

When we all drive flighty cars
we have to drive on equivalent roads as flight roads
because
if we fly willy-nilly above the ground
There will be more scrapped flighty cars in crumpled heaps on the ground than in the air

Flying higgledy piggledy in the air will result in continuous mid air collisions
likened to playing dodgems first thing in the morning to work
and
a brand new flighty car in the evening to come home from work

But we can dream
Batteries presently only sustain minutes of flight

May 16, 2019
The noise problem will dwarf the battery problem. There is no way to hover a sizeable heavier-than-air vehicle in the atmosphere without moving a lot of air at high velocity. The resulting noise will not be tolerated inside anyone's city limits.

May 17, 2019
do I have to do the ant-gravity bit

May 17, 2019
no wings & no engines
just the pod

May 17, 2019
Viktor Grebennikov by Jerry Decker
on youtube

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