Hovercrafts and flying cars were once thought to be far-off things of the future, but according to some recent announcements, the future may already be here. Last month, two companies — the European technology giant Lilium, and the American based Alaka’i Technologies — made big predictions about the way Americans will be traveling in the coming years.
In May, Lilium unveiled their plans for the Lilium Jet. The fixed-wing aircraft — with no tail, rudder, propellers or gear box — will be powered by 36 all-electric engines, and will rely on lift to remain airborne once it reaches a cruising altitude. Features that designers at Lilium predict will make the environmentally friendly craft a necessity for commuters in the future.
With a maximum speed of more than 186 miles per hour — and a similar scope of travel — passengers could expect to traverse from Philadelphia to New York City in under an hour, cutting travel time by more than half of what it would take to make the trip by car.
According to Lilium’s press release, the user experience for ordering a Lilium Jet will look much like it does for users of popular ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber. Giving prospective travelers the ability to use an app to order flights on demand. Just like the user interface of those ride-sharing apps, Lilium promises their jet will share a similar price point as well. The company says that a trip aboard one of their jets should cost about as much as a taxi ride for the same distance.
Lilium completed test flights of their two-seater prototype in 2017. The five-seater jet will be an upgrade from the smaller model — offering more ways to minimize the environmental, financial and logistical impacts of daily travel — giving passengers more options when traveling in larger groups.
The Lilium Jet isn’t the only company promising to take your commute to the sky. Alaka’i Technologies, in conjunction with members of the BMW Group, hosted an unveiling of their hydrogen-powered flying vehicle last month. The zero-emissions aircraft, currently referred to as Skai, is being touted as an answer to Southern California’s infamous traffic problems.
Skai is the first known multi-rotor craft that will be powered entirely by hydrogen fuel cells. Spectators watched as a mock-up of the hovercraft was unveiled — but not powered-up — outside of Los Angeles two weeks ago. The crowd got a sneak peak at a replica of the prototype, which is set to begin remote-controlled test flights soon.
The prototype is said to be about the size of a minivan, able to accommodate five passengers and will have several safety redundancies that include autopilot, propulsion settings that will allow the craft to fly with the loss of a motor and a parachute. Alaka’i Technologies believes that the hovercraft will cost about as much as a luxury car.
According to a representative with the Federal Aviation Administration, the United States can expect to see crafts like these dotting the skies sooner rather than later, telling Parentology that they are working to certify aircraft with similar technologies right now.