Aircraft

Video: Lilium's eVTOL flying car is now doing freeway speeds in testing

Video: Lilium's eVTOL flying c...
Lilium's five-seater eVTOL has now been shown flying at over 100 km/h
Lilium's five-seater eVTOL has now been shown flying at over 100 km/h
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Engineers work on the Lilium aircraft at the company's facility in southern Germany
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Engineers work on the Lilium aircraft at the company's facility in southern Germany
Lilium's transitioning eVTOL in flight
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Lilium's transitioning eVTOL in flight
Lilium's five-seater eVTOL has now been shown flying at over 100 km/h
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Lilium's five-seater eVTOL has now been shown flying at over 100 km/h

Six months after revealing its five-seat electric VTOL aircraft, German startup Lilium has shown it flying at speeds over 100 km/h (62 mph), and moving between VTOL and winged flight, in a new video.

The Lilium aircraft, a super-sleek design inspired by the manta ray, is capable of transitioning between drone-style VTOL hover and efficient, long-range winged aircraft modes thanks to its four tilting banks of electric jet motors, which can face downward for liftoff, landing and hover, or tilt forward to draw air over the front and rear wings.

With 36 of these small, electric ducted fans, the Lilium has a high-pitched, jet turbine-like sound that appears to be significantly quieter than a helicopter. Its ability to transition to winged flight will give it a speed, range and efficiency advantage over other devices like the Volocopter and eHang, albeit at the cost of extra complexity.

The new video shows how the tilting banks deliver what looks like a fairly smooth acceleration after takeoff, and demonstrates the aircraft's ability to soar and execute banked turns before coming to a stop in a hover, and descending gently.

Engineers work on the Lilium aircraft at the company's facility in southern Germany
Engineers work on the Lilium aircraft at the company's facility in southern Germany

How long until we see services like this become active? Well, there's still one glaring problem to overcome, that being what to do in case of total catastrophic failure. If the Lilium is moving fast, it can presumably be landed like a glider in the hands of a skilled pilot. If it's high in the air and hovering, perhaps a ballistic 'chute can bring it down gently if it loses thrust. With 36 fans, there's certainly plenty of motor redundancy. But from lower heights, below about 120 feet, where a parachute won't have time to open and slow it down properly, a total failure would make the Lilium – and all other similar eVTOLs – a complete death trap.

This is one of the issues holding the technology back, the others including aviation authority certification and a broader plan to address how these aircraft will best interact with city airspace when the 3D commuting revolution begins. But there are very clever people working on all of this, and progress has already been astoundingly quick. Enjoy the video below!

Lilium eVTOL reaches 100 km/h in testing

Source: Lilium

13 comments
MD
I like that Loz is a bit balanced in the caution vs hype. Making things fly is easy. Making a buck from them is the hard part, just ask any failed air operator how it is. It is "always"(sic), negative cashflow vs Uber-amped prospects...
zr2s10
I wonder if they can use something akin to an external airbag system for low altitude failures? If it detects an impending impact, it can deploy any bags in that direction, and cushion the fall a bit. Would still have injuries, but better than nothing.
buzzclick
It can be hard to tell which is the front. With 5 people on board, this VTOL (that doesn't exactly look that light) would need some serious parachuting in the case of emergency. The video feels like it's in slo-mo. With the musical soundtrack instead of live sound we don't see any fancy maneuvers that would inspire confidence, even if it does have 36 ducted motors. It illustrates how difficult it is to get this kind of aircraft technology right.
Towerman
I really don't understand the "total failure" concept. It has 36 motors for goodness sake. Plenty of redundancy. If a Certified helicopter has a total failure it is curtains, yet they are certified and fly (and no you will not be able to auto-rotate if your head linkages fail) so this opinion from whoever makes the critical decisions of trying to measure catastrophic failure is pointless as aircraft is already certified.
Mzungu_Mkubwa
Loz, so when can we expect you to "road test" this bad boy? Strap on the ol' leathers and take it for a rip 'round the 'hood! Maybe run a shootout comparo with the Opener BlackFly for us? 😄
Paul Muad'Dib
I wounder what the L/D is? Having all those motors sticking out looks like it might be pretty draggy.
ei3io
Having wing lifting surfaces is key to safety with the airspeed that can be increased with pitch control only if you have a high enough altitude commensurate with existing forward inertia. The issue is how long is the flat surface you may or may not have when the failure occurs.
guzmanchinky
VERY cool idea, I'd like to hear it rather than music!
Nelson Hyde Chick
It is so wonderful to know that the wealthy won't be stuck in traffic with us peons, they will be above us using much more energy and thus hastening climate change.
Brian M
The canard configuration always seems to look wrong some how, I know it has lots of positives, but it still just seems wrong! Being able to transition between drone/rotary and fixed wing is such a big plus if it works for practicality and efficiency. Plus in fixed wing mode engine failures are nowhere as scary (you just glide in)! Its just that landing and take off is a bit more risky.