The flying vehicle, which it calls the Lilium Jet, is projected to have a range of 300 kilometres, will travel up to 300 kilometres per hour.
Lilium says that it will produce zero emissions, and it will be “the most efficient and eco-friendly individual means of transportation of our time. By providing ultra-redundancy, the Lilium Jet will also set new standards in safety.”
The company says that “Lilium aims at liberating towns and cities from today’s congestion and pollution, with people able to come and go freely, vastly expanding the radius of their everyday lives.”
And how about this for a mission statement: “Our mission is to enable a world where everybody can fly anywhere, anytime.”
Details on how it will work, or indeed pricing, are sketchy, to say the least.
The company says that “The Lilium Jet consists of a rigid winged body with 12 flaps. Each one carries three electric jet engines. Depending on the flight mode, the flaps tilt from a vertical into a horizontal position. At take-off, all flaps are tilted vertical, so that the engines can lift the aircraft. Once airborne, the flaps gradually tilt into a horizontal position, leading the aircraft to accelerate. When they have reached complete horizontal position, all lift necessary to stay aloft is provided by the wings as on a conventional airplane.”
The company also seems to have some kind of Uber style model in mind, with the users being able to order a flight by use of a smart-phone.
Is such technology possible? And if it is, in a world of drones, how safe will the air be?
Well, the company puts a great deal of emphasis on safety: but even so, the challenge is clear.
This is the puzzle that the company has not yet answered. Batteries are heavy, and the kind of Lithium ion battery required to produce vertical take-off would be very heavy – would flight really be practical? If so, how?
Until more details are forthcoming, there is good reason for cynicism.
But even so, the idea does seem pretty darn exciting.
But then flying cars may be the challenge of the next decade. After-all, Lilium is not alone, there is, for example Volocopter, which has been described as a ‘personal drone.”
Maybe flying cars are on their way – and if that is so, how will the existing car industry respond?
Peter Thiel may have bemoaned lack of flying cars, but his colleague at PayPal, Elon Musk has given us electric cars, the dream of colonising Mars, and potential to travel at 700 miles per hour via hyperloop. But what about a flying Tesla?
To misquote a bunch of crows: “I have seen a house fly, and I have seen a needle that winks its eye, but I think I will have seen everything, when I see an automobile fly.”