The chance to hail a ride in the skies just got a little closer to becoming reality.
On Thursday, Munich-based startup Lilium announced plans to have its network of electric air taxis up and running in cities around the globe by 2025, reports CNN Business. As part of the announcement, the company showcased the vehicle it’ll use to cart around passengers: the five-seat Lilium Jet, which completed its maiden flight earlier this month in Germany. The small, egg-shaped VTOL is powered by 36 jet engines that tilt up for takeoff and shift forward for flight.
“Today we are taking another huge step towards making urban air mobility a reality,” the company’s co-founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand said in a statement. “We dream of a world where anyone can fly wherever they want, whenever they want.”
A video released by the company (above) only shows the jet launching vertically then touching down, but Lilium promises that, at top speed, the aircraft will be able to fly 186 miles in 60 minutes on a single charge, connecting between cites via a network of landing pads. The air taxi can be hailed on-demand via—what else—a smartphone app, similar to other ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft. And while Lilium has yet to announce a pricing plan, it claims the cost will be “comparable in price with a taxi.” The Verge put the potential cost at around $70 for a flight from midtown Manhattan to John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens. That same trip costs $195 on Blade, the self-proclaimed “Uber for helicopters.”
Two years ago, Weigand told Robb Report that Lilium is “one of the best-funded electric aircraft projects in the world,” having raised over $100 million since its founding in 2015. Investors include high-profile firms such as Skype cofounder Niklas Zennström’s Atomico, former Twitter CEO Evan Williams’s Obvious Ventures, Tencent and LGT.
While Thursday’s announcement was an auspicious step for the startup, Lilium faces fierce competition in the air taxi space. Last year, Uber and NASA announced they were partnering in an attempt to get Uber Elevate running worldwide by 2023. Joby Aviation and Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk are also attempting to launch similar services, while Airbus, Boeing and Rolls Royce are all developing flying vehicles.