First Airspeeder EXA Series eVTOL race takes off in South Australia
After nailing a remotely piloted eVTOL drag race last year, and successfully completing its 250th test flight recently, Alauda Aeronautics has now announced the winner of its first uncrewed Airspeeder EXA race above the salt flats of South Australia.
We've been following the progress of Matt Pearson and Alauda Aeronautics since the unsuccessful Kickstarter in 2017, where an ambitious plan was hatched to not only develop a piloted racing eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft but also to build a fast-paced thrill-packed sport around it.
That sporty flying race car was unveiled early last year, and the team has since clocked up more than 270 test flights and thousands of simulator hours.
The Airspeeder is constructed from carbon fiber, measures 4.1 m long (13.4 ft), tips the scales at 130 kg (286.6 lb), sans pilot, and is capable of hauling more than 80 kg (176 lb) into the air. Onboard motors can deliver some 320 kW of peak power for a 0-100-km/h (0-62-mph) sprint in 2.8 seconds, it can climb to 500 m (1,640 ft) too, if needed, and is packed with a suite of sensors to allow for close-proximity racing thrills.
Now two Airspeeder pilots have been pitched against each other for the first in a series of remotely piloted EXA races, which recently took place around a kilometer-long circuit at Lake Lochiel near Adelaide – and involved developing and rolling out pilot control interfaces and AR (augmented reality) "sky tracks" plus engineering/team control stations and 5G networking, as well as coming up with race rules and safety protocols.
In the virtual pilot seat for the team silver racer was Zephatali Walsh, while the black team aircraft was controlled by fellow flyer Fabio Tischler. Race thrills were served up straight from get go, with the lead changing three times in the first circuit. The black Airspeeder clocked a lap time of 0.39.784 and a top speed of 102 km/h (63.3 mph) with team silver coming in a little slower at 0:44.173 for the lap and topping out at 99 km/h (61.5 mph).
The teams each had to factor in a quick pitstop to swap low-charge batteries for fresh ones, which only added to the race tension, before taking to the air for the second leg, which saw Walsh nosing in front to lap in 0:39.917 and getting up to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) while Tischler managed a circuit time of 0:43.038 at a top speed of 99 km/h.
The pivotal moment in the inaugural EXA series race was when Tischler went wide during a turn, allowing Walsh slip by about a meter below and maintain the lead to secure the win.
Commentators for the race were former F1 driver and Airspeeder development pilot Bruno Senna and motorsports broadcaster Nikki Shields. The highlights video below gives a brief taste of the kind of coverage future sports fans can enjoy when the piloted Grand Prix races kick off in 2024, which will host wider grids, take place in different locations and landscapes around the globe and feature various track layouts.
Source: Alauda Aeronautics