The German company Lilium has beaten out Google and Uber in developing flying cars that can take the place of taxi cabs.
If you're old enough to remember The Jetsons, then you may remember the family's green flying car that folds into a suitcase. Lilium's flying car isn't collapsible like George Jetson's, but portability may be too much to ask at this point in the game.
The idea of flying cars definitely seemed to be fanciful—something that can probably happen in the future, but maybe not in our lifetimes. We were wrong to think that, though, since Lilium's prototype has successfully completed its test flight.
There have been a number of flying car prototypes over the years, and there are a lot of companies that can and probably will compete with Lilium. However, Lilium has taken their own prototype to the next level.
Watch Lilium's test flight here.
Lilium's flying car prototype is a two-seater vehicle that functions a lot like an aircraft. It can execute a vertical take-off like a helicopter, as well as a mid-air transition from hover mode to forward flight. The company aims to eventually build a five-seater version of the prototype.
Lilium reports that its aircraft can cruise at speeds of up to 300kilometers per hour. It can also be a great alternative to taxis, because a ride can cost as much but run five times faster.
Best of all, the prototype is powered by electricity, not fossil fuels. After all, if we're thinking of the future of transportation, we might as well include the future of fuel.
However, powering vehicles with electricity is still in its early days. Electric cars don't get very far, and electric aircraft don't stay aloft for very long. Interestingly, Lilium claims to have found a way to build energy-efficient aircraft.
One concern consumers would have is most likely how safe flying cars are. In Lilium's case, the company has put a number of measures in place to ensure the safety of passengers. For now, human pilots will be driving the aircraft until Lilium has perfected their autopilot system. The aircraft will also have parachutes in case of emergencies.
Funnily enough, Lilium has also made sure that they will be able to protect us from ourselves. After all, a lot of transport accidents are due to human error. Lilium thus developed the Flight Envelope Protection System, which will prevent the aircraft's pilot from flying beyond safety parameters.
So how many millions of dollars do you need to have just lying around to have one of these flying cars? Not many, apparently, according to Lilium's co-founder Patrick Nathen. Nathen claims that Lilium is working to make sure that this mode of transportation will be available to everyone. A five-minute flight in a Lilium flying taxi can set you back a cool $6.
Many other companies are also attempting to successfully build their own flying cars. In the event that these cars are deemed safe enough for human use, however, companies will face another hurdle. Government regulation may be difficult and complicated to wade through.
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