Australian startup Airspeeder revealed a rendering of its latest racing eVTOL, the Airspeeder Mk3, which its partner Alauda Aeronautics plans to manufacture and supply to teams for remotely piloted racing competitions beginning this year. The next version of the aircraft — Mk4, set to debut in 2022 — will be piloted.
Inspired by Formula 1, founder Matthew Pearson aims to create the world’s first eVTOL racing league, leveraging the historic pairing of racing and rapid prototyping to move the nascent industry forward. The Airspeeder Mk3’s 96-kW electric powertrain represents a 95 percent improvement in power with only a 50 percent increase in weight and the aircraft will reach speeds over 120 kilometers per hour (75 miles per hour).
“The unveiling of the world’s first full-sized electric flying racing car is a landmark moment in the dawn of a new mobility revolution,” said Pearson. “It is competition that drives progress and our racing series is hastening the arrival of technology that will transform clean-air passenger transport, logistics and even advanced air mobility for medical applications.”
In October, Airspeeder released footage of the latest version of its aircraft powering up in a ground test.
Airspeeder will manufacture 10 identical racing vehicles and supply them to teams, with more details about the racing series itself to be announced in the coming months. Operated remotely from the ground, the aircraft will feature LiDAR and radar-based collision avoidance systems to create a virtual “forcefield” around the craft to safely allow close-quarters racing. Such technology, if successfully validated by Airspeeder, would have clear value in the broader eVTOL market.
Initial races will provide vital information on vehicle dynamics, performance, safety and powertrain technology that will inform the development of the piloted Mk4, according to the company. Races will include rapid pit stops using a “slide and lock” system for rapid battery swaps — another technique that could prove valuable in achieving the high utilization rates the air taxi market is, in part, premised on.
Airspeeder will also expand its UK presence this year to include a full-time engineering team.
“The world’s first electric flying car races will take place this year and will be the most exciting and progressive motorsport on the planet,” said Pearson.