Aircraft

Airspeeder carries out world's first eVTOL drag race

Airspeeder carries out world's...
The Airspeeder Mk3 during a test flight
The Airspeeder Mk3 during a test flight
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The Airspeeder Mk3 during a test flight
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The Airspeeder Mk3 during a test flight

Around four months after sharing footage of its flying car's first test flights in Australia, Alauda Aeronautics has now carried out the world's first eVTOL drag race, albeit with no humans onboard. A pair of remotely piloted Airspeeder Mk3 aircraft were flown down an aerial drag strip as part of pre-season preparations, ahead a full-blown F1-style air race series slated for later in the year.

We first caught wind of Alauda Aeronautics ambitions around flying car racing back in 2017, with the startup outlining a plan to usher in the era of urban air mobility by fostering innovation through high-speed and high-risk aerial racing.

The test flights that took place back in June saw the Mk3 octocopter take to the air over a South Australian desert for the first time. These carbon-fiber-bodied aircraft can fly from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 2.8 seconds and are designed to reach altitudes of 500 m (1,640 ft).

The latest outing for the Mk3 saw two of them pitted against one another in an aerial drag race, each piloted by a team of Alauda Aeronautics engineers. The course was a short one, at just 300 m (984 ft), but saw the pair rise to an altitude of 15 m (50 ft) and the leading craft reach a top speed of 155 km/h (96 mph), with Team Bravo leading Team Alpha across the finish line.

The fully fledged Airspeeder race series will see up to four teams each with with two pilots, who will race the aircraft "blade-to-blade" around an electronically governed, AR-enabled sky track. These will be hosted at different locations around the world and streamed online, and according to Alauda, are still scheduled to kick off in 2021.

You can check out the pre-season drag race in the video below.

The first ever electric VTOL drag race | Airspeeder's EXA Series

Source: Alauda Aeronautics

11 comments
11 comments
Primecordial
I'm just numb with excitement
guzmanchinky
Well this is very cool, but it's only REALLY cool when there are humans on board. That's what people relate to, is "wow, what that must feel like"...
dan
wow! 300 m, seriously?
Aermaco
This horizontal axis "F1 Car looking" drone doesn't violate all racing logic when it's drag racing because no pit stops play in the goal to cross the finish line first. However, speed does greatly suffer by laking their prop axis from facing into the direction of travel. Then if racing over circuits long enough to include pit stops, their massive inefficiency in wasting [electron] fuel] by forcing their largest area top profile into the wind adds more drag than the small frontal area creating more stops for battery swaps. This bad body alignment also creates a negative lifting body downforce that also uses up energy as the props try to lift it back up also shortening battery life and slowing the racer. Only a small fraction of the prop's energy translates into forward racing speed thus it makes it look pretty silly in the tradition of racing that always tries to actually go faster and last longer on a race course.
Steven Clarkson
@Aermaco

You seem to always get stuck with hypothetical gestures not real life practical demonstrations, and i have seen you done this before, Sorry to say, The airspeeder team have real life practical experience and their Craft is making WAVES beyond revolutionary.
Have you flown it ? NO you have not !
Have they flown it ?
YES they have and it is a Resounding success ! ! !
Multicopters are what they are brilliant technological achievements leave them be they fly extremely well in real life, no amount of bloated gestures will change how well they fly in real life !

And no it does NOT look silly it looks perfectly normal thats HOW multicopters fly, get with the times or get left behind ;)

The world is SUPER excited to see this revolution Unfold and i myself cannot wait ! !
Towerman
I am Ecstatic ! This is what the WORLD have been waiting for for Centuries ! ! ! !
Aermaco
Ok guys, Tower & Steve, I also agree the fixed vertical axis prop drones are great machines and also exciting to watch, but we can't ignore the point that they are far less efficient than if their prop axis simply rotated into the direction of travel when they would save a vast amount of energy, increase speed and lengthen battery life.

The history of "racing" does hold rules to keep a level competition field with disadvantages for all and if they all must be inefficient it is still a race of equals. BUT to advance eVTOL tech we need a race where efficiency is the goal and then true advances can come from it like longer flights, safety, economy, etc., etc.

I'm sorry but it DOES look silly to try and go fast horizontally while the body is streamlined for horizontal travel but instead it tips forward slowing it down by pushing the larger area top side and then add that body's negative lift eats up even more battery energy while also slowing done the tech that is trying to go fast.
MQ
Hpw did Aermaco get 2 comments.

And every RC pilot, especially MC has drag raced, or at least done: woah to go to woah, test
runs... Afteral RC aviation has been all about competition "for ever"..

Yes we do need (very simple) tilting/variable thrust-axis aircraft to allow aerodynamacists to properly work their magic... "Pitch to proceed" works at relatively low speeds but has huge hugh speed penalties as stated. Every aerodynamics person shudders at all that drag and negative lift potential. Lol...

Have I flown this craft, no, have I flown others with very similar dynamics, yes...

Can I book a ride?? that will be cool.. (Already have PPL-A, lots of multirotor experience (RePL), thousands of hours of PC sim-time in a multitude of airframes.... ) Time to let us really fly like Icarus...

PS.I am absolutely aware this will not make for a realisable commuting vehicle but a fun little sports speeder...

Lamar Havard
I agree with Aermaco...if the motors swiveled, the racers could lift off with the blades already at a 10-to15 deg. angle, without the bottom blades hitting the ground, and have forward motion at takeoff. They could then crank the blades all the way forward and not have air pushing on the top surface.
Aermaco
typo ",,,a slowing down [not done] the tech that is trying to go fast."

i have sketches with the identical frame with its 4 fixed double propeller pods YET the arm struts that reach out are not foolishly airfoil streamlined for horizontal body axis motion when there is none, and do add drag energy loss.

Instead, it has winglet arms with their airfoil chord axis parallel and into the wind direction in optimal forward speed body axis angle. Then it can reduce the drag of its current wing strut which is pushing the body down against its propellers lifting up,,,
but,,
it is instead lifting up lessening the prop loads. Four wings for four struts. Ideally, they will be re-orientable for tests to find the best angle of attack axis.
Movable wings remotely during flight would be best if not too heavy. Certainly a flying test bed would gain that good info.

The frame with batteries and rider/pilot should have a horizontal to high speed wind direction teardrop section airfoil shape thus a tapered fin lower & rear underbelly with a narrow as possible body thickness because it is ripping through the wind drag unable to be the best lowest profile.

It could add a mid wing and should add prop shroud ducts that both add thrust effiency and would also have some high angle of atack lift themselves. Their added weight washes out in added lift, while adding HUGE safety pluses.
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