The U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is investigating the crash of an Alauda Airspeeder racing drone, an AAIB spokesperson confirmed to eVTOL.com.
The accident occurred on July 4 near Goodwood, West Sussex, where Alauda Racing was demonstrating its eVTOL prototype at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The AAIB spokesperson described the occurrence as a “small incident” with no injuries.
A Mirror Online reporter who was present for a demonstration of the remotely piloted vehicle that day wrote that “within seconds the flying car spun out of control, quickly rising high up into the sky, much to the Alauda team’s dismay. . . . A few minutes later, the vehicle came crashing back to Earth — thankfully into an empty field.”
A Broadcast Sport account suggested that the drone may have been out of control for as long as five or 10 minutes before it “dropped at some speed to the ground in a field nearby.”
However, a statement issued by Goodwood Aerodrome contradicted these reports, claiming that “the drone executed a programmed direct descent and landing after a successful demonstration, landing in an adjoining field to the aerodrome.” A spokesperson for Alauda Racing declined further comment as the investigation is ongoing.
Founded by entrepreneur Matt Pearson, Alauda Racing is working to develop a piloted version of its Airspeeder “flying car” for competitive racing in a new motorsport format. However, Pearson has been presenting Airspeeder not simply as an entertainment concept, but as a catalyst for wider eVTOL innovation.
“As we know from today’s motorsport industry, the racing environment encourages fast iteration of new concepts, and healthy competition and collaboration,” he stated in a Goodwood Road & Racing press release in advance of the Festival of Speed. “Similarly, for the emerging eVTOL industry, it will provide a safe and exciting platform for bringing these innovations to market faster.”
Pearson acknowledged in the press release that Alauda’s journey so far “has been a bit dangerous, and very exciting. We’ve crashed a lot, learned a lot, and rebuilt over and over. But we are now ready for the next step.”
The release indicated that Alauda aims to fly its final full-scale test car with the first human test pilot by the end of this year. Getting to that point, it said, will require a “serious jump” from hobby-grade to “military-grade” parts, a customized flight controller and motors, greater powertrain management, and extensive battery safety testing.
This story has been updated with a statement from Goodwood Aerodrome.