Echoes of Star Wars perhaps help explain why this month 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?
Terrafugia: The Transition
Terrafugia’s “roadable aircraft,” in development since 2006, drives like a typical car on the ground and fits in a standard single-car garage. It can be pre-ordered now for $300,000.
Top speed 100mph.
Cruise range 400 miles.
Power Unleaded petrol.
They say To drive it you need a U.S. sport pilot certificate that can be “earned in as few as 20 hours.”
We say: OK, it can fit into a garage, but what if there’s no runway next to the garage?
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