Lilium Aviation claims that they can reduce congestion with their VTOL flying cars.
Every kid who grew up watching Back to the Future, or Blade Runner has dreamed of the day they’d be speeding off in their own hover-car. However, while flexible screens and even hover boards have become reality in one way or another, the flying car seems to be forever beyond our grasp. Previous attempts at personal flying vehicles have involved clunky looking cars with detachable wings, or weird flying saucers with a dozen propellers that would never fit on a public road. However, this was in the past, and today, with new technology and an obsession for all things drone, and electric, perhaps there’s hope. Lilium Aviation, a Munich based company, says they’ve developed a flying vehicle with Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) capabilities, which could revolutionize travel.
The company has posted a video (which you can watch below), showcasing their new vehicle complete its first flight. The two-seater vehicle is all electric, and can be seen in the video taking off vertically, before speeding off using wing-borne lift. It has 36 seperate jet engines mounted along its 10 meter wings via 12 movable flaps. The flaps rotate the output of the jet engines so they can provide vertical lift, and then rotate to provide the craft with forward thrust.
Lilium’s first flight was unmanned, but they say that a manned test flight is close at hand, and they boast some impressive claims. They say that their battery uses 90% less energy than conventional drone-style aircraft, which potentially will give the vehicle a range of 300km and a top speed of 300km/h. This could revolutionize the electric aircraft industry. Currently, electric flight is in its infancy, and electric planes are lucky to get an hour’s flight at half Lilium’s speed before the battery drains – and that’s without counting takeoff and landing.
“It’s the same battery that you can find in any Tesla,” explained co-founder Patrick Nathen. “The concept is that we are lifting with our wings as soon as we progress into the air with velocity, which makes our airplane very efficient. Compared to other flights, we have extremely low power consumption.”
Safety is a major focus for the company. Once the plane goes into production, every jet will be kitted with parachutes and a “Flight Envelope Protection System” to prevent the pilot from operating it beyond safety limits.