The world’s first flying race car has been unveiled – with top speeds of 75mph and ‘octocopter’ speeders that will see it compete in a new event later this year.
Named Airspeeder, it will initially be flown by a remote pilot and can take off and land vertically, according to its developers Alauda Aeronautics.
Its first foray into the world of racing will see it operated remotely for a racing series that will act as a ‘technical test-bed’ ahead of a crewed racing series in 2022.
The flying vehicle has been in development for more than three years and is part of a bid to create a sport that can ‘accelerate a new clean-air aerial mobility revolution’.
The firm, based in South Australia is developing a full grid of electric flying race-craft ahead of the first race – with the goal of having 10 identical vehicles ready this year.
Named Airspeeder, it will initially be flown by a remote pilot and can take off and land vertically, according to its developers Alauda Aeronautics
The craft is being developed and manufactured by a team drawn from leading names in aerospace, automotive and motorsport technology including; Mclaren, Babcock Aviation, Boeing, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls-Royce and Brabham.
The group say that more details of the Airspeeder Mk3 racing series will be announced in the coming months – including pilots, location and track.
‘These remotely-piloted races will present to the world for the first time close-quarter flying circuit racing at speeds of more than 120km/h,’ the firm explained.
Final behind-closed-doors pre-season tests will happen in Australia before the start of an international racing calendar later this year.
‘These landmark moments will make history in showing for the first time a full-scale vision of electric flying car racing,’ Airspeeder wrote.
Its first foray into the world of racing will see it operated remotely for a racing series that will act as a ‘technical test-bed’ ahead of a crewed racing series in 2022
The Airspeeder Mk3 is a ‘giant technical leap forward’ as it includes a suite of technologies never seen in an electrical flying vehicle before.
This includes LiDAR and Radar collision avoidance systems creating a ‘virtual forcefield’ around the craft, a carbon fibre frame and fuselage designed for strength, stiffness and lightweight properties.
Compared to the Mk2, unveiled earlier this year, the new version has seen its power increased by 95 per cent with only a 50 per cent weight increase.
It has a 96 kW electric powertrain and weighs 100kg without a pilot – allowing speeds of up to 75 miles per hour.
The craft is in an ‘octocopter X formation’ that gives advantages to pilots when it comes to manoeuvrability and stability when racing, the firm claimed.
‘When racing the pilot will be able to make the same sharp hairpin style turns as a Formula 1 car but with the added third dimension of being able to move vertically.
‘The octocopter configuration also adds an important measure of vehicle redundancy and will ensure the craft can safely land and remain in control should a rotor or battery system fail,’ the team said.
This third version of the racer – operated remotely – will provide the team with essential information about safety, performance and dynamics.
This will help feed into the development of the fourth, manned, version of the Airspeeder vehicle that should be operating as early as 2022.
The craft is being developed and manufactured by a team drawn from leading names in aerospace, automotive and motorsport technology including; Mclaren, Babcock Aviation, Boeing, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls-Royce and Brabham
‘Racing will play a vital role in hastening the arrival of eVTOL technologies which promise to revolutionise urban passenger mobility, logistics and even remote medical transport,’ the firm explained.
‘Both the remotely piloted Mk3 programme and manned Airspeeder Mk4 flying cars will provide a safe environment from where key innovations around safety.’
These innovations will include developments in including refinements to noise and batteries that will be fed into the wider development of a new industry.
The electronic vertical take off and landing industry has been predicted to be worth more than $1.5 trillion by 2050 by analysts Morgan Stanley.
The firm are looking to expand their presence in the UK and outside of Australia – to create a more ‘global sport’. Commercial operations are already run from London.
Compared to the Mk2 (pictured), unveiled earlier this year, the new version has seen its power increased by 95 per cent with only a 50 per cent weight increase
The firm has been developing the new craft for the past three years in the Australian outback, pictured is the second version – the new version is faster and more stable, with a fourth version due next year that can carry a pilot for the first time
Airspeeder says 2021 will see growth in its existing presence in the UK through the creation of a full-time engineering base, a strategic decision made on the basis of Britain’s standing as a technical and engineering powerhouse in motor-racing.
‘Britain is a globally recognised centre of excellence in motorsports and aerospace. In creating a racing series that will accelerate a mobility revolution we will need to draw upon these skills,’ said Matt Pearson, Airspeeder founder.
While the race and flying vehicle is exciting, the firm says the goal is to accelerate the development of a ‘mobility revolution’.
‘The next generation sport plays the same role the pioneers of Formula One did nearly a century ago in driving technical development and building public acceptance for a new mobility revolution.
‘The eVTOL sector is primed to transform urban aerial transport, global logistics and even remote medical transport with a clean-air, zero emissions aerial transport solution.’
THE AIRSPEEDER MK3: ‘A GIANT TECHNICAL LEAP FORWARD’
According to Alauda Aeronautics the Airspeeder Mk3 is a ‘giant technical leap’ in the development of the world’s first racing series for electric flying cars.
This remotely-piloted vehicle is the final iteration of an electric flying racing car before the introduction of manned racing craft, the Airspeeder Mk4, due to debut in 2022.
- Top Speed: 75mph
- Weight: 100kg uncrewed
- Powertrain: 96 kW
- Tech: LiDAR and Radar to create a ‘virtual forcefield’
- Layout: Octocopter X formation
The craft, which will be operated by an expert remote operator from the ground, features a suite of technologies and engineering elements never before seen on an eVTOL craft.
These innovations will be validated in this key unmanned proving phase and include LiDAR and Radar collision avoidance systems that create a ‘virtual forcefield’ around the craft to ensure close but ultimately safe racing.
The Mk3 features a carbon fibre frame and fuselage chosen for its strength, stiffness and lightweight properties, which ensures manoeuvrability, performance and efficiency.
The carbon fibre frame and fuselage adds a vital mechanical layer of safety, which will be further enhanced by a full carbon fibre monocoque body to be introduced on the Mk4 vehicle.
The MK3 powertrain represents a significant upgrade on the Mk2 proof of concept vehicle, with power increased by 95% with only a 50% increase in weight.
A 96 kW electric powertrain already sees the Mk3 operating with a thrust to weight ratio above two, on a craft that weighs just 100KG unmanned. The Mk3 speeders will fly at speeds in excess of 75mh.
MANEUVERABILITY AND STABILITY:
The Mk3 speeders are laid-out in an ‘octocopter X formation’. This provides significant advantages to pilots in terms of maneuverability and stability.
When racing the pilot will be able to make the same sharp hairpin style turns as a Formula 1 car but with the added third dimension of being able to move vertically.
The octocopter configuration also adds an important measure of vehicle redundancy and will ensure the craft can safely land and remain in control should a rotor or battery system fail.
RAPID PIT STOPS:
Airspeeder GPs will include rapid pit stops.
To facilitate this, Alauda’s engineers have developed an innovative ‘slide and lock’ system for the rapid removal and replacement of batteries when on the ground, this technology debuts on the Mk3.
A strategic layer is added to the sport with this approach as teams will be able to adapt battery strategy depending on the dynamic requirements of that particular section of the race.
For example, for courses requiring more manoeuvrability but less straight line speed, a lighter battery pack can be easily selected to deliver more manoeuvrability at the cost of raw power or endurance.