German vertical take-off air taxi start-up company Lilium has just received a major funding boost from Baillie Gifford, the second-biggest shareholder in Tesla.
Lilium had already raised $340 million, $240 million of which came from China’s Tencent. They further boosted their coffers with a further $35 million thanks to funding from Scottish company Baillie Gifford.
The funding will go towards the development and production of an electric-powered, vertical take-off ‘air taxi’ (like a flying car). The air taxi can transport a small number of passengers over relatively short distances.
It has been reported that the five-seater, 36-rotor vehicle, looks unlikely to enter commercial service until 2025. However, it is already in its prototype phase. So far, the vehicle is reported to have been able to reach a speed of 62 mph. It is thought that when finally in service, Lilium’s air taxi will have a range of more than 180 miles.
In October last year, electric flight start-up ‘Kitty Hawk’ (backed by Google co-founder Larry Page), announced that it had produced its third aircraft. This vehicle dubbed ‘Heaviside’ (HVSD). Kitty Hawk reported that HVSD could travel a 55-mile route from San Jose to San Francisco in only 15 minutes.
Unmanned, Autonomous Fighter Aircraft In Development
Meanwhile, in the military world, The American Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) have been working on an autonomous fighter jet that can be controlled remotely. Reports indicate that the aircraft and accompanying technology may be ready as early as next year.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
As roads have become more congested, environmental factors have come to fore. The autonomous vehicle market is full of opportunities that are driven by environmental targets. Whilst the commercial introduction of electric cars, advances in autonomous vehicles and the accompanying technology has provided further assistance to the market.
Short hop electric-powered flying taxis appear to be an area that is exciting and practical. The air taxi may appeal to travellers who need to get quickly from the airport to the city centre.
Whilst trusting a small vehicle with no human pilot may seem like a bit of jump now for many of us right now. Autonomous vehicles do look set to be a growth area in the next few years. This sector could create may new opportunities for existing operators, new businesses and supply chain companies.
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