Flying cars have been zipping through our science fiction films and TV shows for decades, but in the real world they’ve yet to take off. It’s not that the technology isn’t there—flying cars that utilize vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology have been a possibility for years. But there are many roadblocks, like safety and cost, that have prevented them from becoming mainstream. Despite all the barriers, at least one group of venture capitalists still believes that flying cars are the future. As TechCrunch reports, the venture firm Atomico is investing €10 million (about $10.7 million) in a German vertical take-off and landing plane developer called Lilium Aviation.
Lilium cites several reasons why their concept will succeed where others have fizzled out. Their vehicles will be relatively cheap, for one, with the cost of a commuter trip comparable to that of an Uber ride. They also claim that their product will be safer and more energy-efficient than other VTOL passenger drones in development.
When they’re commercial-ready, the electric-fan powered pods will be presented as an alternative to helicopters and conventional planes. The aircraft will eventually have a range of 185 miles and reach speeds of 185 MPH. Lilium writes on their website:
“What if the way you thought about distances radically changed? Imagine, you could have breakfast in Munich, go shopping in Milano and enjoy dinner in Marseille […] Commuters will use VTOL aircrafts to land directly on landing pads extending from their balconies, on rooftops and assigned landing areas. No need to wait for the bus, no need to conform with plane and train schedules.”
Founded in 2015, this latest investment marks a major step forward for the company. After expanding their team of specialists and engineers with the new funds, they plan to begin full-scale test flights within the next year.