Yes, you heard it right. At Goodwood Speed Week, Airspeeder unveiled the Mk3 racing prototype – the world’s first remotely-piloted full-scale and functional electric flying racing car. Alauda Aeronautics, sister-company to Airspeeder, is currently building ten of these vehicles in Adelaide, South Australia, for races set to take place on three continents in the coming months.
The design clearly represents the marriage of an F1 car, a fighter jet and helicopter. In functional terms, when crewed racing begins in 2022 and beyond, the pilot will sit in the cockpit, in the same manner, a driver is placed in a modern Formula 1 car. Fastidious attention to the ergonomics of the cockpit have been paid to ensure that nothing distracts the pilot from the purity of their purpose; to fly their machine at the absolute limit.
In addition to racing, Airspeeder will pioneer a suite of technologies that will refine and demonstrate safety requirements to build acceptance for eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) sector, which is already transforming logistics and even providing medical supplies to remote regions.
The Mk3 remotely-piloted electric flying racing car delivers a maximum power of 320kW, equalling an Audi SQ7 performance SUV. However, while the Audi weighs 2,500kg, the Airspeeder racing craft (without pilot) weighs just 130kg. That results in an acceleration time of 0-100kmph in 2,8 seconds. What’s more, the Speeder can turn with extraordinary speed when compared to a traditional fixed wing aircraft or helicopter. The Mk3 vehicle has a thrust-to-weight ratio of 3.5, which exceeds that of an F-15E Strike Eagle (thrust-to-weight ratio of 1.2), one of the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world.
Every Airspeeder includes rapid pit stops. Batteries are a crucial strategic component of racing, and the team has re-designed batteries from the previous iteration to now feature 90% more capacity with only a 50% increase in weight., The engineers have developed an innovative ‘slide and lock’ system for the rapid removal and replacement of batteries when on the ground. As competitive as it gets, intense internal competition between inhouse pit-crews has driven the pitstop time down to just 14 seconds, which is entirely compatible with any form of ground-based legacy motorsport.
The Airspeeder engineering and technical team is drawn from some of the leading names in performance and racing vehicle engineering including Mclaren, Tom Walkinshaw Racing and Brabham. Airspeeder’s mission is to accelerate a zero-emissions, advanced air-mobility revolution through intense sporting competition. This approach reflects the work of pioneers such as C.S Rolls, W.O Bentley and Karl Benz who built acceptance for what was then a revolutionary new technology, and accelerated their development, by going racing.