Imagine a car race where the vehicles aren’t hurtling along the ground but instead tearing across the sky.
That’s the lofty ambition of Australia-based Airspeeder, which is planning to launch a three-race series using eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) vehicles before the end of this year.
Airspeeder recently revealed the completion of the first successful test flight of the flying race car that it’s aiming to use in its contest.
The Alauda Aeronautics Mk3 took its maiden flight recently in the skies over southern Australia. Lifted into the sky by eight sets of rotors on four arms, the vehicle can reach 62 mph in 2.8 seconds and fly as high as 500 meters. On this occasion it was piloted remotely, but it also has a seat and controls for an on-board pilot.
Billed as “the world’s first racing series for electric flying cars,” the event, called EXA, will pit the flying skills of up to four teams at three different sky-based racetracks around the world.
In each race, teams will be given identical flying vehicles — in this case the Alauda — with competitive advantage “only gained through pilot skill and world-class strategy,” Airspeeder said.
The first race season will see the eVTOL vehicles flown remotely, but the plan is to put pilots into the flying cars for subsequent racing events. Races will involve navigating virtual courses with the machines flying blade-to-blade, Airspeeder said.
To avoid any devastating midair collisions, the eVTOL aircraft will be fitted with the latest LiDAR and radar technologies that create what Airspeeder describes as “virtual forcefields” around each of the flying cars.
As the current batteries can only sustain 15 minutes of flight, the vehicles will have to come in for pit stops to swap out power units. Airspeeder says it’s developed an innovative “slide and lock” system to enable rapid battery removal and replacement, though just as with more traditional motor racing, the efficiency of the pit stop team will be key to getting the edge over competitors.
The Airspeeder engineers that built the Alauda Aeronautics Mk3 have come from a range of industries, including motorsports, automotive, and aviation.
Adelaide-based Airspeeder, which launched in 2016, says its ultimate mission is to use the racing series to boost eVTOL technology through intense sporting competition.
“This mobility revolution, underpinned by future tech, will transform urban air mobility, global logistics, and even medical applications with a clean-air electric vehicle solution,” the company said.
Airspeeder is yet to announce specific dates and locations for its debut EXA season. We’ll be sure to update just as soon as we find out.
Airspeeder’s interest in eVTOL aircraft mirrors growing investment in the sector, with companies such as Airbus and Toyota eying the technology for short trips in urban areas using greener technology. Take a look at some of the impressive designs currently in development.