Vertical-Lift Flying Car Is a Perfect Personal Aircraft

German aviation company promises lightweight personal aircraft that requires only 20 hours of training to pilot.

One of the great disappointments of 1950s-style retro-future conjecture is that we still don't have a genuine flying car, ala The Jetsons, parked in the driveway.

Well, by the year 2018, we might have several models to choose from. Germany's Lilium Aviation is promising that its lightweight model will be the most advanced personal aircraft ever developed. The Lilium aircraft's super-compact design will allow the aircraft to lift off vertically from any 50-foot-square flat area.

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That small footprint -- plus the vehicle's quiet all-electric engine -- means the Lilium could be a genuine park-in-the-driveway kind of flying car for urban and suburban commuting, according to developers.

The Lilium also features a computer-assisted piloting system that will require only 20 hours of training, designers say -- although presumably aviation authorities will have something to say about that.

According to a report in the U.K. publication The Telegraph, the Lilium would be classified as a Light Sport Aircraft, designated to fly in uncongested airspace to a maximum altitude of three kilometers, or just under two miles.

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More details from the Lilium's online spec sheet: The aircraft will have a maximum velocity of 250 mph, with a maximum takeoff weight of 600 kg, or just over 1,300 lbs. Designers are aiming for a range of about 500 km, or around 300 miles.

The Telegraph article notes that, in Europe at least, flying the Lilium would require clearance from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which would also need to grant permission over any landing site. So while you couldn't take off from your front yard, you could use your friendly neighborhood helipad facility. Or, naturally, an airport.

Here in the United States, aviation company Terrafugia announced that its prototype TF-X flying car will be ready in two years.

Lilium Aviation is run by a team of designers from the Technical University of Munich and has received funding and support from both the European Union and the European Space Agency. Oh, and they're hiring.

Which futuristic mode of transportation will revolutionize the world in decades to come?