Lilium Raises $90 Million for Its Electric Flying Taxi

But will that be enough to get this machine off the ground?

While the technical challenges of creating a flying car haven’t really changed, a veritable army of startups is giving it a go. One of those startups, Germany’s Lilium Aviation, is even attracting serious attention from investors. Lilium recently raised $90 million in a Series B funding round, according to TechCrunch

That’s on top of the $10 million raised in the company’s Series A round last year. Lilium says it believes its recent progress, including a successful test flight in April and a large number of new hires, got investors’ attention.

The Lilium aircraft is electrically-powered and features vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability. Lilium wants to use it as an airborne taxi service in cities, so the aircraft is fairly compact. Lilium anticipates a range of 300 kilometers (186 miles), and a top speed of 300 kph (186 mph), but but the company hasn’t achieved those benchmarks yet.

While the aircraft has completed one test flight, it will probably be several years before it’s ready for commercial use. During the test flight, the aircraft was remote-controlled by a pilot on the ground. It took off vertically, transitioned to forward-flight mode, and flew around a bit, but the test was ultimately just a baby step.

In addition to perfecting its aircraft design, Lilium must also convince regulators to let it deploy hundreds of flying taxis in the skies above major cities. Lilium CEO David Wiegand isn’t too concerned about that, though. He told TechCrunch that the aircraft’s lack of noise—and the fact that it will operate at high altitudes—should make it attractive to municipalities.

But even if they are quiet and nearly invisible, it’s easy to imagine people to be uneasy about large numbers of aircraft zipping directly over their heads. An urban air traffic control system will also need to be devised to prevent collisions. But that’s assuming Lilium’s flying taxi doesn’t join the long list of failed flying cars on the scrap heap of history.