The age of technology is really hard on regulators. They have to figure out how to incorporate internet-of-things to make smart cities a reality; how to provide sustainable clean energy; where AI fits into all this and they have transport challenges.
If it isn’t drones, it’s self-driving cars or providing enough charging points for electric cars. Regulations for drones and self-driving cars are not on the books yet, and already the future has landed on a tiny pad on some rooftop.
The stuff of Sci-Fi movies, flying cars that transport urbanites on their errands, have literally landed in the present. Munich-based Lilium, completed a series of test flights with its flying car in the skies above Germany recently.
The world’s first zero-emission electric plane capable of Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) is a two-seater prototype that can execute a range of complex maneuvers, including transition from hover in mid-air to wing-borne forward flight, according to a statement by Lilium. It is the only electric aircraft capable of both VTOL and jet-powered flight, using its wings for lift, similar to a conventional airplane.
Celebrating the landmark moment, Lilium co-founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand said: “We have solved some of the toughest engineering challenges in aviation to get to this point. The successful test flight program shows that our ground-breaking technical design works exactly as we envisioned. We can now turn our focus to designing the five seater production aircraft.”
Electric small-scale aircraft for urban transportation use hold multiple benefits. The Lilium Jet is 100% electrically powered, so creates no harmful emissions, making it a potential solution to deteriorating air quality in towns and cities, caused by road traffic, says Lilium.
A Lilium Jet requires only a small open space for take-off, which can be a landing pad on a building -alleviating pressure on congested roads.
The Lilium Jet consumes around 90% less energy than drone-style aircraft, enabling the Lilium Jet to achieve a range of more than 183 miles and a maximum cruising speed of 183 mph. In flight, the Jet’s power consumption per mile will be comparable to an electric car.
Lilium envisions its aircraft used in dense, urban areas in an on-demand capacity. You’ll be able to order your sky ride just like an Uber ride from your mobile phone. Or maybe you’ll choose between the two since Uber is working on its own flying car.
A potential Lilium competitor is e-volo, a firm based near Mannheim in Germany. E-volo is building a “Volocopter”. The company has also started manned test flights in Germany.