Flying Taxi Services are Closer Than Ever

German-based firm predicts lift-off in 2025

Flying cars have been a futuristic fantasy for decades. Now Lilium, a Munich-based start-up, said fantasy may become reality within just six years.

Lilium is developing a five-seat air taxi that the company predicts could whisk passengers from Manhattan to John F. Kennedy International Airport in about six minutes for a $70 fare, according to a CNBC article.

And Lilium isn’t alone. Bell Helicopters, which produces U.S. Navy attack helicopters, is working on a flying taxi that looks like a giant drone. The prototype, the Bell Nexus, was unveiled earlier this year. Bell’s business partner is Uber, the ride-sharing company. Boeing and Airbus also have prototypes of these flying cars in the works, according to an article by NPR.

Experts predict air taxis will eventually be pilotless autonomous aircraft, but until then it is very likely each taxi will need a pilot. And that’s where the delays come in, preventing cities like New York from having fleets of available air taxis.

“If air taxis are going be what everybody wants them to be — thousands at a city, for example — we won’t be able to find enough conventional pilots,” Carey Cannon, chief engineer of technology and innovation at Bell, told NPR.

Experts predict the batteries that power electric cars will evolve for use in air taxis. Companies will build artificial intelligence to manage traffic control.

Lilium has actually gotten its concept off the ground. The company’s five-seat air taxi was test flown earlier this year. Lilium flight-tested a two-seater in 2017, according to CNBC.

The German start-up’s five-seater jet took to the skies for the first time last month, a key milestone for the company. Prior to that, Lilium had tested a two-seater variant in 2017.

Boeing also took flight with an air taxi in January, testing it’s autonomous technology.

Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences conducted the first test flight of the electric aircraft. It only flew a few seconds after its vertical takeoff at the company’s test site in Virginia, according to an article in Flying.

The predictions are not so far-fetched. According to Morgan Stanley, the market for autonomous flying cars could be worth $1.5 trillion by 2040.

Until then, cab drivers will continue to be the go-to solution to get passengers to JFK.

 

 

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