Alittle white winged pod lifts itself off the ground and glides off into the distance. The whole movement looks effortless. It’s like watching Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder – except we’re in a nondescript airfield in Germany, not the planet Tatooine. Echoes of Star Wars perhaps help explain why last week the pod’s maker, Lilium, secured $90m (£69m) investment from, among others, Chinese tech giant Tencent – although the company states its aim has more to do with solving transport problems: “We have highly congested cities and we can do things to improve matters,” said Lilium’s Remo Gerber. “We’re trying to move from a niche transport vehicle to a mass-transport one”.
Lilium is not flying solo. Prototypes by rival ventures are also passing their test flights. So the prospect of flying cars may not be all that far away. Here are six projects working towards bringing Back to the Future into the present.
This German aviation startup, founded in 2014, is working on a five-seater air taxi jet, with the aim of making the first manned test flight in 2019.
Top speed 186mph (300 kilometres per hour).
Takeoff and landing Vertical.
They say Users will be able to access city centres by calling the air taxi at the push of a button.
We say Creating the large network of landing pads on top of city buildings, as envisioned by Lilium, will take considerable time and money. With no advanced on-ground driving feature, can we even class this as a flying car?