fbpx
News & Analysis

F1-style flying racing cars are being tested in the South Australian desert

- June 18, 2021 3 MIN READ
Airspeeder Alauda Mk3
The Airspeeder Alauda Mk3 on its maiden flight
  • The world’s first electric flying racing cars flew successfully in Sth Australia
  • The octocopter has a 250kmh top speed and will start racing using remote pilots in 2021.  
  • Piloted craft will start racing in 2022.
  • Tech experts from Boeing, McLaren, Brabham and Rolls-Royce helped develop the cars
A flying electric race car that its developer hopes to turn into an aerial version of F1 has made its first unmanned test flights in South Australia.

The first remotely piloted flight of the 130kg, four-metre-long octocopter, the Airspeeder Alauda Mk3 – think high speed drone that will one day also carry a pilot – is the culmination of a two year dream for entrepreneur Matthew Pearson, who is planning to hold the first races uses the vehicles later this year.

To do it Pearson assembled a team of technical experts, engineers and designers from F1 and aviation, including Brabham, Boeing, McLaren, Jaguar and Rolls-Royce to build his vision.

The Alauda Airspeeder Mk3’s design inspiration is the classic form of 1950s and ’60s racing cars melded with the profile of a fighter jet and function of helicopter.

The first flights took place at undisclosed locations in the South Australian desert under the observation of Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).  The successful tests mean uncrewed electric flying car Grand Prixs will take place in 2021 at three soon-to-be-revealed international locations.

 

eSports pilots needed

These races will see elite pilots drawn from aviation, motorsport and eSports backgrounds remotely pilot the world’s only racing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) craft using augmented reality enabled sky-tracks.

Airspeeder, cockpit

Inside the Airspeeder cockpit

Pearson is hoping to have actual people inside the eVTOL racers from next year, but for now, in what he’s called the EXA remotely piloted series, the “drivers” will sit in a simulator that mimics the dynamics and ergonomics of the Mk3 cockpit.

Up to four teams with two remote pilots per team will compete in three events, racing ‘blade-to-blade’ over locations inaccessible to traditional motorsport.

The Alauda Mk3, which has a top speed of 250km/h, has a greater thrust-to-weight ratio than a F15 fighter jet. at 3.5, compared to the F-15’s 1.2. The Airspeeder races even include rapid pit stops for crews to replace the Mk3’s battery.

At maximum power the craft delivers 320kW, equalling an Audi SQ7 performance SUV. It can lift more than 80kg, with acceleration from 0-100km/h of 2.8 seconds and the ability to climb to 500 meters.

Physical tele-robotic avatars named ‘The Aviators’ sit within the MK3’s cockpit, providing engineers with critical data and information on the effects of high speed racing, rapid turning, acceleration and deceleration on the human frame.

Audiences will watch through on-demand digital streaming.

Pearson said EXA delivers on the promise first shown in science fiction.

“We are proud to introduce a sport that redefines what humans and machines can achieve together,” he said.

“These historic first flights are just the start and we are all excited to begin a momentous new chapter in motorpsort’s rich legacy.”

The Airspeeder Alauda Mk3

Piloted races coming

EXA will act as the feeder series for crewed Airspeeder races in the forthcoming Alauda Mk4 in 2022.

Pearson said Airspeeder and EXA represent the future of motorsport ahead of a mobility revolution the technology will deliver for the broader community.

“The Alauda Aeronautics Mk3 is the world’s first performance eVTOL craft. It is the result of the very best minds working with focus to accelerate a mobility revolution,” he said.

“Racing will take this a step further and we cannot wait to compete with elite teams to show the world the dynamic potential of these incredible performance race-craft.”

South Australia is the testing ground for Airspeeder’s flying cars

Alauda’s technical HQ in Adelaide, South Australia, and the Alauda Airspeeder Mk3 has now entered production, with 10 in build ready for the EXA Series races.

Airspeeder is a global operation with a commercial HQ in London.

Matthew Pearson’s “other” job is with South Australian startup Fleet working on industrial Internet of Things devices powered via Low Earth Orbit nanosatellites.

Watch the Airspeeder Alauda Mk3 test flight below: