If you've been sitting around anxiously waiting for the future to arrive ― like, the future that generations past imagined 2017 to look like ― take heart, because one big prediction for the 21st century might not be as far away as you think. In fact, an announcement by a German company suggests that it's already on the horizon: Lilium has tested an electric flying car, complete with the release of some striking video.
The prototype vehicle is a two-seater and electric, making it more environmentally friendly than some sort of gas-guzzling version would've been. As demonstrated in the footage the company uploaded this week, it takes off by ascending straight up into the air, not unlike a blade-less helicopter.
Once it's airborne, according to The Telegraph, it can fly forward at speeds of up to 186 miles per hour, and is equipped with a battery that will keep it in the air for about an hour. If you're the sort of person who dreams of taking to the skies in an car-aircraft, then this is probably all extremely exciting news, and you'll probably want to check out the video below ― it's certainly an exciting and impressive sight, no doubt about that.
If you want to quibble over whether this really constitutes a "flying car," that's fair, seeing as it isn't equipped with wheels and strictly operates as an aircraft. That said, the vehicle ― called the Lilium Jet ― is, according to the company, the first all-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, and it's clearly selling the dream of commuter air-travel at the individual or group level on a remarkably personal scale. It would, in other words, likely be used exactly as a car would.
In an interview with Wired Germany, Lilium co-founder and CEO Daniel Weigand said the current prototype is only intended to prove that the technology works, and that the company's ultimate goal is to produce a version that can seat up to five people, rather than the two-seat version used for the test.
The Lilium Jet, which isn't actually a jet, is everything you want in a flying car https://t.co/u27vE1yHS1— WIRED (@WIRED) April 20, 2017
Obviously, it remains to be seen whether this technology will end up taking off at the consumer level, but it's almost surely something that companies will increasingly start looking into. According to The Guardian, Tesla, Google, and Uber have all already shown interest in similar technology.
In other words, just as commercial self-driving cars seem almost inevitable at this point, there could be a lot of major changes and adjustments coming for the everyday commuter. In short, this could be the signal of a bold new direction for the commercial transportation industry. Upward, that is.