Following an unprecedented exit from the role of lead designer at McLaren last year, reports now suggest that Frank Stephenson wanted to apply his design skills in a new upcoming futuristic segment: flying taxis.
Stephenson is a renowned designer who is popular for his works on benchmark-setting cars such as the P1 and 650S. Prior to his service at the British company, Stephenson earned a household name for his works on the modern Mini, the first BMW X5, the Maserati MC12 and the Ferrari 430.
According to reports, in April this year, Stephenson was confirmed as the design chief for Lilium, a German startup who has been making headlines for working on an electric vehicle capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL).
Lilium believes that a fleet of the low-flying craft would provide an on-demand ride-hailing service in congested cities between key areas. Previous reports about Lilium’s flying taxi suggest that the craft would have a total of 36 electrically driven propellers that are embedded into the wing flaps, enabling an effortless transition from hover mode into horizontal flight.
Surprisingly, the controls of the craft will be completely autonomous, with a range of 297km while touching a top speed of 300kph. Compared to the current air travel solutions, Lilium is claiming staggering 92 percent better efficiency while being much quieter than the former.
While the crafts are still in their early stages, Lilium had successfully conducted a maiden test flight in April 2017 of its first model, the Jet.
While the crafts are still in their early stages, Lilium had successfully conducted a maiden test flight in April 2017 of its first model, the Jet. Apart from that, the company also managed to raise close to $90 million in its last round of funding and announced last week that it has hired big-sharks from the industry such as Mirko Reuter, formerly head of autonomous driving at Audi, and Jakob Waeschenbach, formerly head of equipment installation at Airbus for its work on autonomous driving tech.
“My last job was as high up as you could be in the car design world. The obvious question was, what next?” Stephenson said of his new role. “Lilium is going to revolutionize city travel by moving journeys from the ground into the sky; the technology that they have already developed is truly mind-boggling.”