This Is The World's First Functional, Full-Scale Flying Race Car
Hollywood movies can sometimes be seen as the crystal ball for future tech. From the Jetsons to Star Wars to Back to the Future, high speed personal aerial mobility has always been a pipe dream.
Tom Cruise said it best with his classic line from Top Gun: “I feel the need…the need for speed!” Soon, the dream will of a flying car ends and reality begins.
Airspeeder unveiled its Mk3 racing prototype of its remotely piloted craft earlier last week. It is reportedly the world’s first full-scale and functional electric flying racing car. Based in Adelaide, South Australia, Airspeeder’s vision is to create an alternative racing platform to accelerate a zero-emissions, advanced air-mobility revolution through intense sporting competition.
Although it also sees the commercial viability of these vehicles, developing these eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircrafts on a racing platform reflects the work of pioneers such as C.S Rolls, W.O Bentley and Karl Benz, who built acceptance for what was then a revolutionary new technology, and accelerated their development through racing.
Airspeed teased the netizens with a sneak peak of this project and how the race will be conducted on this video (link here) Engineering an eVTOL Grand Prix | Airspeeder February Report
“Some of the very first Mercedes, Bentleys, and Renaults were racing cars,” said Matthew Pearson, Founder, Airspeeder and Alauda Aeronautics. “The pioneers of these marques knew that in order to advance a mobility revolution, they must build their machines for racing. At Airspeeder, we proudly echo that philosophy. To accelerate the arrival of advanced air mobility technology we must leverage sporting competition. The Airspeeder Mk3 is the result of years of engineering, testing and development with the pure purpose of creating the ultimate performance electric flying car.”
Built for speed
Alauda Aeronautics, sister-company to Airspeeder, is currently building 10 of these vehicles for races set to take place on three continents in the coming months. The first of these unmanned races will be happen later this year and the development of the Mk4 piloted version is also in the works.
With acceleration from zero to 100 kilometers per hour in just 2.8 seconds and thrust-to-weight ratio exceeding an F-15 Strike Eagle fighter jet, the Mk3 is also configured to race side-by-side on a tight aerial racing circuit and can be very exciting to watch.
At maximum power it delivers 320kW, somewhat within the scale of an Audi SQ7 performance SUV. But with the Audi weighing 2,500kg, the Airspeeder racing craft (without a pilot) weighs just about 130 kilograms. It can support and lift to about 80 kg passenger weight.
The Speeder is very agile and can turn at high speed compared to a traditional fixed wing aircraft or helicopter. The Mk3 vehicle has a thrust-to-weight ratio of 3.5, which exceeds that of an F-15E Strike Eagle, which has a thrust-to-weight ratio of 1.2 and is considered one of the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world.
Airspeeder believes that through racing, with a clean slate on design and free from preconceptions, this will accelerate development and build acceptance for eVTOL and, as a form of future transport, answer key questions around battery technology, noise, and regulation.
“My first principle is that our Speeders are racing craft first. In ideating a design approach I explored the classic forms of racing cars from the 1950s and 1960s,” said Felix Pierron, Head of Design, Airspeeder and Alauda Aeronautics. “This was a time when the requirement for beauty was equal to technological and aerodynamic necessity. As a designer, there is no better place to start. I am excited to see something that started as a vision on paper taken to the air. My dreams are no longer my own. They are now an incredible reality to inspire the world.”
Crewed racing coming soon
These Speeds are somewhat of a cross between a Formula One car, fighter jet, and a helicopter. According to Airspeeder, crewed racing with a pilot inside the cockpit is slated for next year and the unmanned Speeders this year will be proving grounds to refine the next generation of these racing eVTOLs.
Morgan Stanley has predicted that the eVTOL sector will be worth $1.5 trillion (P71.88 trillion) by 2040, with growing applications already underway specially for the logistics industry. Another promising sector is the passenger transport side of the industry, with the concept of ‘electric flying taxis,’ promising transformation of urban environments by freeing them from congestion and pollution with safe and sustainable transport.
For more info about this check out their website at www.airspeeder.com
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