Flying taxi startup, Germany-based Lilium, says it will build its first US transportation hub—a new 56,000 sq ft vertiport—at the Lake Nona community in Orlando, Florida. Lilium wants to create a network of electrically-powered air taxis capable of short, high-speed flights, something the company expects will become a reality within the next 10 years. When paired with a smartphone app, Lilium wants to make ordering a flying cab as easy as making a phone call. The company’s two-seat, egg-shaped Eagle prototype successfully completed its maiden flight in April 2017.
The company’s ultimate goal is a five-seat autonomous aircraft—though, for the immediate future, its aircraft will use human pilots to operate its test vehicles. All Lilium jets will include a parachute system to enhance safe operations. In addition to a host of other investors, Lilium received $35 million in funding from Baillie Gifford in June. Baillie Gifford is the Scottish asset management firm that is the second biggest shareholder in Tesla after Elon Musk.
Lilium says it will work with the Lake Nona area’s primary real estate developer, Tavistock Development Company, to ensure the new $25 million vertiport fits snuggly into the surrounding community. While Lilium plans to use private financing to create its new hub, the company has sought tax incentives from the City of Orlando according to the Orlando Business Journal. Lilium believes the new hub will create 100 jobs and bring some $1.7 million in economic activity to the region over a 10-year period. No date has yet been announced for the Lake Nona groundbreaking.