Is this the future of air travel?
Developers of the Lilium Jet are hoping it could become the aerial equivalent of Uber.
Excitement is building at Munich aviation start-up Lilium that it may be on the cusp of redefining the future of air travel as we know it.
Their mission statement is to “enable a world where everybody can fly anywhere, anytime”, and they may be getting closer to their goal after their Lilium Jet prototype recently completed a series of rigorous flight tests in the skies above Germany.
It’s the first zero-emission electric plane capable of Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL), has an estimated range of up to 300km and a cruising velocity of 300kph, which should make journeys around five times faster than they would be in a car.
The aircraft is powered by 36 electric jet engines mounted to its wings via 12 moveable flaps. It is unique in combining the benefits of VTOL offered by helicopters and drones, with the speed and range of a jet aircraft.
At take-off, the Lilium Jet’s flaps are pointed downwards to provide vertical lift and then, once airborne, the flaps gradually tilt into a horizontal position, providing forward thrust.
In terms of safety, Lilium’s Flight Envelope Protection System prevents the pilot from doing anything which would take the aircraft beyond safe-flight parameters.
In the recent tests, the two-seater prototype executed a range of complex manoeuvres, and Lilium is now developing a larger, five-seater version of the Jet, designed for on-demand air taxi and ride-sharing services.
Lilium co-founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand is excited by the breakthrough, and said: “Seeing the Lilium Jet take to the sky and performing sophisticated maneuvers with apparent ease is testament to the skill and perseverance of our amazing team.
“We have solved some of the toughest engineering challenges in aviation to get to this point.
“The successful test flight programme shows that our ground-breaking technical design works exactly as we envisioned.
“We can now turn our focus to designing the five-seater production aircraft.”
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”