A flying taxi prototype was revealed Thursday by the German startup Lilium, and could become available within the next six years, according to CNN. The company conducted the first test flight of its full-sized, five-seater electric flying taxi last month, and says its Uber-like app-based taxi service will be “fully-operational in various cities around the world by 2025.”
After booking a ride using an app, riders would pick up the taxi at landing pads available throughout cities. The taxis can take off vertically, and can travel as far as 300 kilometers (186 miles) in 60 minutes, on a single charge.
The company emphasized to CNN that the service is geared toward regular commuters, not just wealthy business travelers, and will be “comparable in price” to standard taxis.
“Today we are taking another huge step towards making urban air mobility a reality. We dream of a world where anyone can fly wherever they want, whenever they want,” according to co-founder and chief executive Daniel Wiegan.
Uber is working with NASA to offer a similar service by 2023. Boeing and Rolls Royce are also developing flying cars.
Lilium says its taxis can make “much longer journeys than the majority of its competitors.”
The startup has drawn €100m in investment since it was first founded in 2015.
While the company had tested a smaller version of its craft in 2017, the recent test marks the first flight of its full-size taxi. It carries four passengers as well as a pilot, but was tested by remote control in Munich. A total of 36 jets are required for vertical takeoff.
“The Lilium Jet itself is beautiful and we were thrilled to see it take to the skies for the first time,” said Wiegan.
The company says that the craft’s simple design makes it safer and more affordable than other flying cars, using only slightly more power than an electric car after takeoff. As a fixed-wing plane, the taxi has longer range and uses less power to remain in the air than drone-style craft.
More tests will be needed to certify the craft for flight. The next step will be to ensure the jets can shift smoothly from vertical takeoff to horizontal flight.
The company says its approach is ecologically friendly, quiet, and will be respectful of urban spaces and existing public transit systems. According to chief commercial officer Remo Gerber, this means not “landing in every garden.”
“You’d be working with regulation around the world, integrating with public transport systems where they have them. We’re coming at a respectful way of thinking how people live, how we create corridors and not just fill the skies with these things.”