Soon, racing is going to happen in the sky, with electric flying cars – at least that’s what Alauda Aeronautics believes. Following the launch of its Airspeeder Mk3 aircraft in February, the Australian startup has taken significant steps to make the first uncrewed racing series a reality. Alauda has already flown two Mk3 race vehicles side by side for the first time ahead of the big competition.
The Airspeeder EXA Series will see electric flying cars race around an augmented reality circuit. An aviator will simulate the weight and movement of humans onboard the MK3 aircraft as remote pilots fly it from ground cockpits. Up to four teams, each with two remote pilots, will compete in three separate events around the world this year over areas inaccessible to traditional motorsport.
The aircraft that will be used, the Mk3, is an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) with four arms extending from the carbon fiber fuselage, each with pair of rotors, for a total output of 320 kW. With an impressive thrust-to-weight ratio that exceeds the F-15 Strike Eagle jet, the Mk3 will be able to reach a top speed of 200 kph (124 mph) and altitudes as high as 500 meters (1,640 feet).
The aircraft’s range will be limited. In its full “racing” mode, it will only be capable of flying for 15 minutes at a time. To overcome that, pilots will be able to replace batteries at pit stops along the circuit.
Alauda’s first-ever dual test flight gives us a taste of what head-to-head racing will be like in the future. Following an unmanned inaugural season, the company plans to hold crewed races in which pilots will compete “prop-to-prop while traveling electronically governed racetracks in the skies.”
The format of the crewed races, which are set to begin in 2022, will be pretty similar to the F1, with a pilot sitting in the cockpit in the same way as a driver sits in an F1 car.