Lilium, the aviation startup developing an on-demand drone taxi service, has announced a number of key hires in the automation and aircraft spaces.

The company has appointed Mirko Reuter, former head of automated driving at Audi, as its new head of autonomous flight.

It has also made two appointments from aviation giant Airbus, with former head of equipment installation Jakob Waeschenbach joining as head of aircraft assembly and former vice president of finance & lease Rochus Moenter joining as general counsel & head of legal.

The announcements reflect a company on the rise as it cements its position as a key player in the emerging autonomous urban transport space.

Lilium to bring flying drone taxi service to cities

Lilium is currently designing and manufacturing the Lilium Jet, an autonomous electric vertical take-off and landing jet (eVTOL).

Such jets require only a small space and minimal infrastructure to take off and land, meaning they can be easily integrated into the travel infrastructure of a host of urban areas. With zero-emissions, they have an estimated travel range of up to 300km/h.

Once complete, the company will also operate the jets in major cities, providing an on-demand drone taxi service for those looking to cut their commute times and avoid the travel congestion involved in urban spaces.

An emerging class of transport

Lilium is not the only company developing products in this space, with Uber planning to launch its own drone taxi, UberAir, in 2020 in Los Angeles, with a full rollout in the city to be achieved by 2028.

However, Lilium has its own timeframe, with the first manned flights planned for 2019, and its on-demand service to be launched by 2025.

These new hires allow the company to achieve this goal, taking on both the engineering and legal challenges in its way.

“Joining Lilium means for me being part of a revolutionary mission and creating a ground-breaking product while working with passionate people,” said Moenter.

“I am thrilled to shape the early stages of merging automotive and aircraft production to finally change travelling and commuting in urban spaces. Catching onto this unique momentum is incredibly exciting.”

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“I am deeply committed to our mission of creating a revolutionary service that enables effective and affordable transportation that is widely used among all sectors of society,” agreed Reuter.

“At Lilium, we are building a new and revolutionary way of transport, and I am very excited to be a part of it.”