Much of the technology found in today's consumer automobiles was originally designed to give race cars a competitive edge. With that in mind, Australian entrepreneur Matt Pearson figured that if there's one way of accelerating the development of flying cars, it's to race the things. To that end, his company Alauda is now building what is essentially a human-capable racing drone.
Known as the Alauda Mark 1 Airspeeder, plans call for the vehicle to carry one pilot up to a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). It will be equipped with four custom 50-kilowatt brushless electric motors, powered by the same lithium-ion cells as used in the battery of a Tesla Model S. With an aerospace aluminum frame and a carbon fiber composite body, it should have a net weight of 120 kg (265 lb) and a power-to-weight ratio of 1.66.
It all sounds very ambitious, although the Alauda team isn't promising huge things for flight time just yet – the goal currently sits at about 10 minutes.
Plans currently call for the retro-bodied Mark 1 (pictured above) to make its first test flight in early 2018, followed by a head-to-head race between two of the vehicles taking place in the Australian desert late in the year. The first-ever Airspeeder World Championship, in which flying cars from different manufacturers race against one another, could subsequently be held in 2020.
For now, though, Matt's raising money on Kickstarter. No, you can't get an Airspeeder of your own, although a minimum pledge of AUD$35 will get you exclusive access to a livestream of next year's test race – assuming it happens, of course.
"It's just time the world had flying cars," says Pearson. "Racing will push the technology like nothing else. It's not enough to build the speeder: we have to build the sport. We want to bring the excitement and values of Formula 1 to the sky."
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