Aircraft

Airspeeder flying race car takes to the air over South Australian desert

Airspeeder flying race car tak...
Debut flights of the Airspeeder Mk3 were recently undertaken at undisclosed desert locations in the South Australia
Debut flights of the Airspeeder Mk3 were recently undertaken at undisclosed desert locations in the South Australia
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The Airspeeder design is inspired a 1950s F1 racing car
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The Airspeeder design is inspired a 1950s F1 racing car
Debut flights of the Airspeeder Mk3 were recently undertaken at undisclosed desert locations in the South Australia
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Debut flights of the Airspeeder Mk3 were recently undertaken at undisclosed desert locations in the South Australia
The octorotor eVTOL racer can zip from 0-62 mph in 2.8 seconds
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The octorotor eVTOL racer can zip from 0-62 mph in 2.8 seconds
The Airspeeder Mk3 had no pilot aboard during the test flights, and was remotely controlled by Alauda engineers
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The Airspeeder Mk3 had no pilot aboard during the test flights, and was remotely controlled by Alauda engineers
The flight tests offer an early look at the upcoming EXA Grand Prix series, where expert teams will remotely pilot Mk3s around electronically governed, AR-enabled sky tracks
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The flight tests offer an early look at the upcoming EXA Grand Prix series, where expert teams will remotely pilot Mk3s around electronically governed, AR-enabled sky tracks
The Airspeeder Mk3 is reported to have excellent hairpin turning potential, and is capable of flying "blade-to-blade" with others for the promise of
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The Airspeeder Mk3 is reported to have excellent hairpin turning potential, and is capable of flying "blade-to-blade" with others for the promise of all the thrills you'd expect from a kind of Formula One for flying cars
Pilots completing in the 2021 EXA Grand Prix races will not sit in Mk3s themselves, but will remotely control the aircraft from a simulator environment
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Pilots completing in the 2021 EXA Grand Prix races will not sit in Mk3s themselves, but will remotely control the aircraft from a simulator environment
Alauda engineers will soon race in a head-to-head drag race to test all systems ahead of the 2021 EXA Grand Prix race series
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Alauda engineers will soon race in a head-to-head drag race to test all systems ahead of the 2021 EXA Grand Prix race series
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We've been hearing about Matt Pearson's dream to race multirotor flying cars for a few years now, with startup Alauda Aeronautics making its international public debut in 2019 and an awesome-looking full-sized electric racer revealed earlier this year. Now the team has released footage of the Airspeeder Mk3's first flight tests.

The first Airspeeder races are due to take place later this year, but the flying racers won't have a pilot sitting in the cockpit – the aircraft will be remotely controlled. And so it was for the first flights of the Alauda Mk3 at undisclosed test locations in the deserts of South Australia.

The flight tests offer an early look at the upcoming EXA Grand Prix series, where expert teams will remotely pilot Mk3s around electronically governed, AR-enabled sky tracks
The flight tests offer an early look at the upcoming EXA Grand Prix series, where expert teams will remotely pilot Mk3s around electronically governed, AR-enabled sky tracks

Test flights like these are an important part of meeting regulatory approval for the upcoming races, proving everything works as it should, including safety protocols. Indeed, Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority representatives were present at these historic first flights.

The EXA Airspeeder Grand Prix will draw pilots from the worlds of aviation, motorsports and eSports to remotely race the aircraft "blade-to-blade" around electronically governed, AR-enabled sky tracks in the world's only eVTOL race. Up to four teams made up of two pilots per team will compete in each of the three events, which will be hosted at different locations around the world and streamed online.

"EXA delivers on the promise of a future first shown in science fiction," said company founder, Matt Pearson. "We are proud to introduce a sport that redefines what humans and machines can achieve together. These historic first flights are just the start and we are all excited to begin a momentous new chapter in motorsport’s rich legacy."

Alauda engineers will soon race in a head-to-head drag race to test all systems ahead of the 2021 EXA Grand Prix race series
Alauda engineers will soon race in a head-to-head drag race to test all systems ahead of the 2021 EXA Grand Prix race series

An upcoming pre-season drag race will kick things off, where two teams from inside Alauda will go head-to-head to make sure everything performs as designed before external team pilots enter a simulator environment that "mimics the dynamics and ergonomics of the Mk3 cockpit environment" for the Grand Prix races.

Each team will control a technically identical carbon-fiber-bodied Mk3 octocopter, which delivers 320 kW at maximum power, can zip from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 2.8 seconds, has excellent hairpin turning potential, and is able to climb to 500 m (1,640 ft). No specifics on the modular batteries have been shared at this point, though a slide-and-lock system allows for quick change pitstops to extend race time.

The Airspeeder design is inspired a 1950s F1 racing car
The Airspeeder design is inspired a 1950s F1 racing car

The aircraft weighs in at 130 kg (about 285 lb), and is reported capable of lifting more than 80 kg (~175 lb), and indeed tele-robots named The Aviators will sit within the cockpits to provide engineers with "critical data and information on the effects of high speed racing, rapid turning, acceleration and deceleration on the human frame."

LiDAR and radar technology will enable racers to fly close together without colliding, and safety systems have been developed so that no single operational failure will result in the loss of primary functions, performance will be reduced but the pilot should be able to land the aircraft safely.

A brief look at the first flights and a preview of the kind of thing to expect from the 2021 EXA race series can be seen in the video below.

Flying Car Racing Is Here | Airspeeder: EXA Series First Flight

As with motorsports, it's expected that technology envelopes pushed in the "flying car" racing arena will help speed up development in the wider eVTOL transportation space. Meanwhile, work on the Airspeeder Mk4 continues toward the first crewed racing series (where pilots will actually be in the aircraft's cockpit), which Alauda hopes will take place some time in 2022.

Source: Alauda Aeronautics

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9 comments
9 comments
Robt
If you aren’t in the cockpit, what’s the point?
Great technology, but as a spectacle, no thanks.
Towerman
Excellent Paul... I have long wanted an update for this machine and here it is ! I am so glad they are taking this forward !

And what an Exciting field this is and Era to be alive in ! !

This will single-handedly create a cult like Global audience and the excitement that comes with every new race and technological advances as this moves forward, absolutely breath taking ! The performance of these machines, outpaces anything we know humanly exist !

Well done Airspeeder Team, i cannot wait to see it happen !
Arcticshade
@Robt Whats the point you ask ? Really ? Hahaha ! Glad you asked as i have too many GREAT answers to mention this page is to small to hold them all, here's a few:

The POINT is firstly: How magnificent it will be not only to be able to control this aircraft inside the cockpit or outside Line of Sight, but also sitting inside a Virtual reality cockpit !

And that with virtually no modification to the craft required ! This in turn opens up 3 classes of piloting ability and therefor 3 classifications of racing types which can be created by the event organizers, a revolutionary Spectacle !

It will be Super awesome to watch any 3 events and super interesting to see how differently the pilots handle the craft within all 3 different categories (inside cockpit, LOS flying and virtual cockpit flying)

Then very important also, the technology can be precise tuned via the engineer, pilot and whoever required, they don't have to sit inside the craft take it up and test it, testing will give this venture a whole different meaning and advance the technology quicker than anything before possible.

This is Total Genius !

Let's get those motors turning and those ions flowing ! This is going to be the revolutionary evolution we've been waiting for in the racing field that will also grow the sport beyond the racing field and into everyday life !
paul314
I wonder whether the telemetry will indicate G forces that would make a human pilot black out.
aki009
It'll be a while (perhaps never) before this stuff gets into the same league as the National Championship Air Races in Reno.
martinwinlow
Very obviously *not* a desert...
martinwinlow
Robt: Surely *one* point would be to attract money and talent to the technology to improve it - like any other form of machine-based sport... no?

Secondly, what does it say about our species that if a race does not involve risk of injury or death that we aren't interested?
Aermaco
WOW,, this is so absurd to call it a "racing machine" being designed to race so poorly. Drones are made primarily for hovering and can be raced even with very inefficient horizontal motion and of course can be fun to watch the skill involved. BUT this "racer" is designed for a huge waste of energy, with lower speed, shortened battery life, more pit stops as its forward streamline shape lies about its axis of motion by actually flying top side forward. It is a fake F-1 car that "races" very inefficiently creating a HUGE negative lift down force that eats up the battery life for the maximum number battery pitstop changes.

This is sad if this is the future. Are we to make dumb designs that go against logic, wisdom and the beauty of form follows function? A drone is a beautiful functional machine with its efficiency as the ability to hover motionless and also move horizontally to find its need. Even flying into a volcano as fast as it can dying there is a magnificent sacrificial machine. Race drones yes, but designing a racing vehicle from scratch that is so inefficient is silly at best.

Now to turn all my rant on its head all they need do is rotate the 4 arms at the fuselage for forward facing props and then the body can have least frontal area least drag into the wind and then it becomes a real racing vehicle. I have not seen any mention of this logic anywhere in the air-speeder news, but what do I know?
doc
@Aermaco

You have some points worth looking into, this old car racing body according to myself as well is not the best choice aerodynamically.

Given the way a drone practically operates, however on the other hand racing drones do not have tilted motors and they go like lightning !

So lets see how it fares first before we comment yes...

I would however love to see a tilted prop drone as well competing, the sport is still new, however they have already come so far,
it can only improve from here.

Also to those in the article calling it a flying car. Please don't call it a flying car, that immediately pops an image of those clunky broad real flying cars with actual wings that is in existence today, that is not a good car nor a good plane.

This, the Speeder should be called a Manned Multicopter or a Manned Racing Drone.

This will be a a very Exciting Sport and once everyone catches on, there will be NO stopping it !