Is this podracing? Not quite, but it is awesome. Ready to race in 2021, the world’s first flying electric racecar has been unveiled – and it looks exactly like the movies. The Airspeeder Mk3 is a remotely-operated flying vehicle that the manufacturer, Alauda, says will hit the racetrack in 2021 and pave the way for a manned model in 2022. The Mk3 boasts an impressive top speed of 120 kph (75mph) and claims to have the turning capabilities of land-dwelling performance cars.
"The world’s first electric flying car races will be the most exciting and progressive motorsport on the planet,” says Matt Pearson, founder of Alauda Aeronautics, in a statement.
The flying cars use 8 individual spinning rotors to propel themselves through the air, with a stack of two on each corner of the vehicle in an "octocopter X formation". Following previous iterations of the Airspeeder, the proof-of-concept Mk2, the powertrain has been significantly boosted to a 95% increase in power whilst weighing just 100 kg (220.5 pounds). Alauda claims their advancements allow the Airspeeder Mk3 to take the tight corners that F1 cars can manage, all whilst owning the sky.
To keep the vehicles pointed in the right direction and prevent crashes in the best way possible, a host of technologies are deployed on the vehicle to monitor its surroundings. LiDAR (a remote sensing technology that uses lasers to measure distances between objects) and radar are utilized to create a "virtual forcefield" around the craft. It remains to be seen how effective these are in keeping the vehicles safe in the upcoming races.
Production is underway for an entire grid of Airspeeders, which will debut in a remote-controlled race soon in Australia soon. If the race is a success and the vehicles are technically sound, the Mk3s will feed into a manned series of flying racecars to debut in 2022.
It all seems like a bit of fun, but the idea behind producing electric flying racecars is grounded in reducing the impact of motorsports on the environment. A racing event – particularly those with many cars – produces high amounts of greenhouse gases, contributing to the ongoing climate change crisis. Many believe electric vehicles are the future of eco-friendly transport, although more work must be done before the production of electric vehicles becomes sustainable. In the meantime, innovations such as these will have massive impacts on reducing global emissions.
“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. 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.” Pearson continued.