Since long before the schematics of Leonardo Da Vinci, mankind has dreamt of flight. While seemingly absent from the evolutionary destinies of our bodies, we (as a species) have conspired to soar through the sky, trusting technology to offset concerns that we’d follow the fate of Icarus. The result, of course, is the overwhelming success of our global airline industry.
But while airplanes of all sizes prove ideal for business and vacation travel, it’s hardly efficient for daily driving. For more mundane transportation needs, we have no choice but to rely on motorized and non-motorized vehicles, public transportation and our feet.
But in this world where we were promised flying cars long before 1989’s “Back to the Future II” predicted their availability in 2015, one can’t help but feel slightly disappointed. That is, of course, until now. Much like the fast-tracking of autonomous driving technologies for implementation by 2025, the equivalent of flying cars is receiving a similar push towards realization as evidenced in current auto news.
Enter 58-year old Frank Stephenson, a man whose automotive pedigree boasts credentials from Fiat, BMW, Mini, Maserati, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and McLaren. Commissioned by a German startup company called ‘Lilium’) Stephenson is being tasked with development of electric-powered airborne taxis, for introduction between 202c5-28.
The vehicle, initially spec’d to be powered by 36 electric jet engines, is predicted to travel up to 186 mph (equal to its range on single charge) with a functional prototype to be presented in 2019. Stephenson has been pointed with oversight on all areas of design and development, including the design and logistics of both departure and landing areas, stating, “We don’t have to base the jet on anything that’s been done before” adding “we’re not talking about modifying a car to take to the skies, and we are not talking about modifying a helicopter to work in a better way.”
This level of innovation paints an exciting picture of how travel will be evolving further, within our lifetimes. If the next twelve years will deliver both autonomous driving and personalized aircraft, reason would tell us that within the next quarter of century, we’ll be very close to the ‘future’ that had been painted for us in science fiction.
For an inspiring insight into Frank Stephenson’s philosophy on design, and the future of automotive design, please enjoy the following: