The future of transportation might not be self-driving cars or Elon Musk’s 700 mph Hyperloop train. The startup Lilium, in Germany, is working on developments in the emerging “air taxi” field. These are, essentially, private aircraft that ferry people across cities or even states where there is high traffic congestion.
But we are not talking about jumbo jets, or even Leer jets. These air taxis are high-tech flying machines, to be sure, but they are closely related to flying motorcycle or a winged helicopter, though much quieter than either.
You can instantly improve your commute time with just the simple press of a button in a smartphone app. Think of it like Uber, but with personal jets.
Ilium co-founder and CEO, Daniel Wiegand comments, “The founding mission of the company was to enable everyone to use this kind of transportation system in their everyday lives. We want to be the leading company enabling every person to take a jet instead of using the car and be five times faster to their destination… There’s going to be an app and from day one you’ll be able to book this airplane as a service”.
But, in fact, it is more than just an on-call private plane. These are specially-designed five-seat jets with a brand new electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) device that a Munich, Germany startup has been working on for the past few years.
Now, don’t get too excited just yet. Wiegand makes sure to note that we are still “several years” from seeing these as a commonplace option. The company has not quite finished work on the 5-seaters, but the Lilium jet is on track, after the startup has had success, a few months ago, with a similar aircraft, though it was only a 2-seater.
All that in mind, the company has announced the closing of a $90 million funding for Series B, which adds to the $10 million raised in Series A just last year.
Wiegand continues, “When we had the Series A investment, we had an idea and a smart founding team and a promise, basically. In April we delivered that: we have shown a full-scale airplane flying, even in transition from hover flight, so we could really demonstrate this is the best technology in that field and it works. That was probably the key difference.”