Airspeeder has revealed what it claims is the world’s first fully functioning electric flying racing car. Called the Airspeeder Mk3, it’s a full-sized remotely-operated electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle (eVTOL).
Designed to compete in the upcoming remotely-piloted Airspeeder racing series, it’s the final interaction the remote-controlled electric flying racing car before the introduction of a manned racing craft, the Airspeeder Mk4, due to debut in 2022. . The unveiling of the vehicle represents the realisation of more than three years development work to create a sport that will accelerate a new clean-air aerial mobility revolution.
A full grid of Mk3 electric flying race-craft is currently being manufactured at Airspeeder and Alauda’s technical HQ in Adelaide, South Australia. More than 10 identical racing vehicles will be produced and supplied to teams in 2021. The craft is being developed and manufactured by a team drawn from leading names in aerospace, automotive and motorsport technology including; Mclaren, Babcock Aviation, Boeing, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls-Royce and Brabham.
The Airspeeder Mk3 racing series will be announced in the coming months. These remotely-piloted races will present to the world for the first time close-quarter flying circuit racing at speeds of more than 120km/h. Airspeeder’s first races will take place in 2021. Final behind-closed-doors pre-season tests will happen in Australia before the start of an international racing calendar.
The initial Mk3 races will provide vital information on vehicle dynamics, performance, safety and powertrain technology that will inform the final development of the manned Mk4 Airspeeder vehicle. Racing will play a vital role in hastening the arrival of eVTOL technologies which promise to revolutionise urban passenger mobility, logistics and even remote medical transport.
You can see the Airspeeder Mk3 in action in the YouTube video below.
THE AIRSPEEDER MK3 | TECHNICAL DETAILS:
The craft, which will be operated by an expert remote operator from the ground, features a suite of technologies and engineering elements. These innovations will be validated in this key unmanned proving phase and include LiDAR and Radar collision avoidance systems that create a ‘virtual forcefield’ around the craft to ensure close but ultimately safe racing. The Mk3 features a carbon fibre frame and fuselage chosen for its strength, stiffness and lightweight properties, which ensures manoeuvrability, performance and efficiency. The carbon fibre frame and fuselage add a vital mechanical layer of safety, which will be further enhanced by a full carbon fibre monocoque body to be introduced on the Mk4 vehicle.
The MK3 powertrain represents a significant upgrade on the Mk2 proof of concept vehicle, with power increased by 95% with only a 50% increase in weight. A 96 kW electric powertrain already sees the Mk3 operating with a thrust to weight ratio above two, on a craft that weighs just 100KG unmanned. The Mk3 speeders will fly at speeds in excess of 120 km/h.
MANOEUVRABILITY AND STABILITY:
The Mk3 speeders are laid-out in an ‘octocopter X formation’. This provides significant advantages to pilots in terms of manoeuvrability and stability. 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. The octocopter configuration also adds an important measure of vehicle redundancy and will ensure the craft can safely land and remain in control should a rotor or battery system fail.
RAPID PIT STOPS:
Airspeeder GPs will include rapid pit stops. To facilitate this, 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. A strategic layer is added to the sport with this approach as teams will be able to adapt battery strategy depending on the dynamic requirements of that particular section of the race. For example, for courses requiring more manoeuvrability but less straight-line speed, a lighter battery pack can be easily selected to deliver more manoeuvrability at the cost of raw power or endurance.