Flying cars are not just transformed into taxis or buses of the future, they can also participate in the racing car sector, and the Australian startup Alauda just proved it.
The company has unveiled the world’s first full-size electric flying race car – the Airspeeder Mk3, which will take part in the first race of the Airspeeder series later this year. The Airspeeder Mk3 is an electric vehicle that can be operated remotely with vertical takeoff and landing.
A full grid of Mk3 flying race-craft is currently being manufactured at Airspeeder‘s technical HQ in Adelaide, South Australia. More than ten identical racing vehicles will be produced and supplied to the teams for the first races on electronically controlled circuits later this year.
The electric flying race car, for now, will be unmanned and will serve as a flight testbed that will collect data on vehicle dynamics, performance, safety, and powertrain technology to inform the design and specifications of the upcoming manned Mk4 racers. The pilots will control the unmanned flyers remotely.
The design is reminiscent of an F1 race car from the 1950s, with a strong and rigid carbon fiber frame and fuselage that weighs around 100kg without crew. Its 96 kW electric powertrain is expected to drive the Mk3 at speeds of more than 120 km/h (75 mph). The Mk3 speeders are laid-out in an ‘octocopter X formation,’ providing significant advantages to pilots. When racing, the pilot will be able to make the same sharp hairpin style turns as a Formula 1 car but with the added third dimension of being able to move vertically.
To facilitate rapid pit stops, Alauda’s engineers have developed an innovative’ slide and lock’ system for the rapid removal and replacement of batteries when on the ground; this technology debuts on the Mk3.
The vehicles will be built by a team of engineers from McLaren, Babcock Aviation, Boeing, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls-Royce, and Brabham and then delivered to the teams. The dates of the first races will be announced shortly after the final pre-season tests are completed.
Alauda is one of several companies working on flying electric vehicles. Hyundai and Uber unveiled the concept of an electric flying taxi at CES in Las Vegas last year, and Porsche and Boeing are developing a similar concept.