Hail the flying taxi!

World's first all-electric vertical flying taxi completes maiden test; take a look

Flying car company Lilium completes first unmanned test flight

Lilium, which has built a five-seater jet-powered flying vehicle, flew an unmanned test flight of its vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) system earlier this month.

Using an app to order an air taxi that won't break the bank is one test flight closer to being realised.

"Lilium expects to be fully-operational in various cities around the world by 2025, although trial services will start earlier than this in several locations", the company said.

But Lillium could face skies crowded with competition.

There are more than 100 different electric-aircraft programmes in development worldwide, according to Roland Berger consultancy, with Lilium's biggest competitors including Joby Aviation and Kitty Hawk, whose models are electric rotor rather than jet powered, as well as planned offerings from Airbus, Boeing and Bell Helicopter, partnered with Uber Technologies. At the same time, it can operate for a full hour with a total range of 186 miles, a lot more than EHang's drone-like craft, for instance.

The Lilium Jet took flight for the first time on May 4, after completing extensive ground testing at Lilium's headquarters in Munich, Germany, the company said.

Ultimately, Lilium sees its pint-sized plane as being part of an on-demand transportation service where customers can book flights via an app. The company did not say exactly how long the aircraft was airborne.

In a statement posted online, Daniel Wiegand, Lilium's co-founder and CEO, called the aircraft a significant stop towards "urban air mobility" and noted that having five seats could open it up to ride-sharing or business travelers arriving in a city, presumably from a nearby airport.

You'd be hard-pressed to hail one from the kerb - but this five-seater pilotless "flying taxi" could be whisking you home within six years' time. It has raised around $100m from investors.

But the startup - and other air-taxi hopefuls - will have to hack through a forest of regulations, safety concerns and public scepticism to build a sustainable business.

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