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Flying taxi startup Lilium shows off sleek new aircraft design


Make no mistake — compact, quiet, and emissions-free aircraft that can take off and land vertically are on their way to our cities.

German firm Lilium is one of a growing number of companies that are developing such an eVTOL aircraft, and this week it unveiled its latest design.

The super-sleek piloted aircraft has seven seats and a cruising speed of 175 mph. A range of around 150 miles means it can be used not only for short trips within urban areas but also for much longer trips between cities. Indeed, Lilium is eyeing 14 cities in Florida for its first air taxi service that could launch as early as 2024. It’s also in talks to launch a service connecting cities across Europe. The company told Digital Trends last year that to use the service, “customers would book a shuttle flight much like they would book a ride-hailing taxi ride today.”

The aircraft is powered by a series of small, specially designed electric jet engines integrated into the wing flaps. According to Lilium, the technology offers advantages in payload and aerodynamic efficiency, as well as a lower noise profile.

“Our vision is to create a sustainable and accessible mode of high-speed travel and bring this to every community,” Daniel Wiegand, co-founder and CEO of Lilium, said in a release. “Transport infrastructure is broken. It is costly in personal time, space consumption, and carbon emissions. We are pursuing our unique electric jet technology because it is the key to higher-capacity aircraft, with lower cost per seat mile while delivering low noise and low emissions.”

The Munich-based startup also announced a partnership with San Francisco-based Qell Acquisition Corp. The deal should be finalized in the next three months, after which the newly combined company will begin trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Lilium’s new partnership is expected to result in initial funds totaling around $1.2 billion — a decent chunk of change that will help to keep the startup’s ambitious plans on track.

As we’ve already mentioned, there are plenty of other companies looking to enter the potentially lucrative eVTOL market. Check out Digital Trends’ recently updated section showcasing some of the exciting designs currently under development from competitors around the world. The sector has certainly come a long way since this terrifying contraption tried to get off the ground a decade ago.

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Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
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