Hydrogen-electric flying car looks to take F1 racing airborne
Car racing is quickly evolving to embrace new technologies through series like Formula E and Extreme E. It may even find a home on the Moon in the near future. French startup MACA is looking to add flying cars to the list of emerging technologies actively competing in racing, developing a rather insect-like eVTOL race car designed to lap circuits around the world. Its Carcopter is no drone, manned by a human driver pushing the hydrogen-fed electric-driven craft to speeds over 150 mph ... or so MACA hopes, anyway.
MACA is still in the early development stages, but its ambitious plans call for a slim-bodied, 16.4-foot-long (5-m) eVTOL racer with room for a single pilot. Six 35-kW electric motors would lift the light aircraft off the ground and send it soaring forward at speeds up to 153 mph (246 km/h). Using plenty of carbon fiber, MACA intends to keep weight below 1,323 lb (600 kg) and employ an F1-like dedication to aerodynamic optimization, ensuring the Carcopter zips quickly and nimbly around the racing circuit. Semi-autonomous pilot assistance would help keep the vessel proceeding safely toward the finish line.
MACA opts for a hydrogen fuel system instead of a trendier pure battery-electric drive to optimize range while still offering zero tailpipe emissions. Refining its systems through racing, it hopes to eventually design hydrogen-based eVTOL commuters capable of intercity travel.
The company was founded by fighter pilot Thierry de Boisvilliers and Airbus Helicopters exec Michael Krollak. Team members have been organizing for the past several years and officially launched as MACA last year ahead of participation at this year's virtual CES. The company plans to have its first demonstrator ready to fly by the end of 2021, before another CES appearance in 2022. It will move forward with testing and development from there, with hopes of having the Carcopter certified and ready to race by late 2022.
There's still a whole lot of work and optimism between the present moment and an all-new, unprecedented breed of air racing, so we wouldn't get too excited for a 2023 Carcopter season. But it's a fascinating proposition we'll be keeping an eye on.
The 40-second clip below is mostly marketing fluff and buzzwords, but it's what MACA has to show at this point.