German Startup Successfully Tests Electric VTOL Jet

In almost every vision of the future we were promised ubiquitous flying cars and personal airplanes, and yet that version of the future never materialized. It turns out that building a small airplane or flying car is much harder than many people believed. But that hasn’t stopped many startups from trying, and the latest is Munich-based startup Lilium, which is making its own electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) craft.

┬áLilium’s design features two pairs of wings and 36 turbofans.The turbofans are able to point either vertically or horizontally, and transition between the two alignments. Each turbofan is powered by a high-speed electric motor. The craft has a top speed of over 150 miles per hour, with a 1 hour rechargeable battery. It’s actually quite similar to a certain DARPA X-Plane design, but with less extreme stats.
Lilium’s design is also very similar to a prototype flying car in development by Zee.Aero, a mysterious company funded by Google’s Larry Page. Like Lilium, Zee’s design features two pairs of wings, multiple electric fans, and VTOL capability. However, unlike Zee, we actually have footage of Lilium’s prototype taking to the skies:

This maiden flight featured Lilium’s prototype two-seat aircraft, a precursor to its commercial five-seat aircraft. The flight was designed to test many of the aircraft’s capabilities, such as its signature vertical takeoff, transition to normal flight, and other complex maneuvers.

Of course, these tests involved a smaller version of their commercial design without any passengers, so you probably won’t be seeing a flying car above the streets anytime soon. And Lilium is far from the first company to try and build a flying car, so its chances of being the first to succeed are slim.

Still, this prototype test puts Lilium ahead of most of the competition. If it does succeed in bringing its craft to the market, Lilium envisions it as a kind of air taxi, capable of ferrying passengers over crowded city streets to their destinations more quickly than anything else.

Who knows, maybe we’ll finally get our flying cars at last.

Source: Popular Mechanics (Flight) – German Startup Successfully Tests Electric VTOL Jet