Airspeeder (company)

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Airspeeder (company)
CategoryAir Racing
RegionWorldwide
Inaugural season2016
ClasseseVTOL
Makes' championAlauda Racing
Official websiteairspeeder.com

Airspeeder is an upcoming, next-generation motorsport series for electric flying vehicles. It has been described by GQ as the “Formula 1 of the skies. ” [1]. The series, founded by technology and space entrepreneur, Matt Pearson, will be powered by performance eVTOL manufacturer Alauda. [2] Alauda will provide teams with identical craft, known as ‘Speeders’. Teams will be given the freedom to set drivers and create strategy.

Races will take place in remote locations across the globe. The speeders are manned racing electric quadcopters that can fly at speeds of up to 200km/h.

Airspeeder's operation spans both the UK and Australia. Its main technical base is in Adelaide, South Australia. A region rapidly becoming a global centre of technological innovation in the space and aerospace sectors.

The company’s commercial operations are based in London and are led by CCO, Jack Withinshaw, who heads the Communications, Media and Commercial operations.

History

Launched in 2016, Airspeeder was founded by Matt Pearson and was based in Sydney, Australia.

By November 2018, they had designed several new Airspeeder models with 8 propellers, two on each corner of the aircraft. According to the Japanese website Viva-Drone, the development of the aircraft had a "hard time" after footage of a crash inside a factory during a test. [3]

A Mark II remote control two meter (excluding propellers) ¾ sub-scale model test flyer was flown June 23, 2018.

A full unmanned racing test was carried out successfully at Wakefield Park, Goulburn, NSW, Australia. An open wheeled racing car served as ground reference to track the MK2 Speeders performance versus traditional motor sport.

In May 2019, German logistics company DHL became the series’ global logistics partner. In June 2019, money management firm EQUALS became Airpseeder’s FX partner.

In June 2019, Airspeeder was showcased at Goodwood Festival of Speed's technology stand "Future Lab" alongside a full flying-car concept model manufactured by AeroMobil, and a model of Airbus' ExoMars Rover. [4]

In April 2020, Saltwater Capital, a global specialist technology fund led by Len Findaly, and Jelix Partners announced significant institutional backing for the series.

Purpose

The electric vertical take-off and landing sector is predicted to be worth $1.5trillion by 2040.[5] Global aerospace and engineering entities including NASA, Boeing, The United States Air Force and UBER have all invested significantly in major eVTOL projects. The focus of this investment has been for passenger transport (PAV) and logistics purposes.

In a Roland Berger paper titled:"Aircraft Electrical Propulsion – Onwards and Upwards", aviation and aerospace industries stand to change in the near future, citing Airspeeder, "electric propulsion into a competitive sport may well do the trick." [6]

Pearson, observed the importance of racing to the development of new technologies. Principally its role in accelerating advances in areas including safety, awareness and performance. “Looking back to the development of both the car and aeroplane over a century ago, it was sporting competition that drove progress. We are delighted to work in close collaboration with global regulators and the wider eVTOL industry to bring closer a revolution in airborne mobility.”

For its inception, Airpseeder has been cited as a leading voice in the race to develop sustainable transport alternatives using competition to accelerate technology. According to "Innovation & Tech Today" we may be seeing "real-life Podracers soon."

“This electric flying racer will compete against others in a bid to help advance the technology for future sustainable transport. The idea is akin to Enzo Ferrari’s belief that racing motor cars, the white heat of competition, accelerates the technical development of the road car."[7]

Technology

The technology that underpins the Airspeeder racing series is developed by sister-company, Alauda. The speeders are at an advanced stage of development, with manned test flights planned for in 2020 in the Australian desert.[8]

As they compete, Airspeeders will utilise cutting-edge LiDAR and Machine Vision technology to ensure close but safe racing, with defined and digitally governed no-fly areas surrounding spectators and officials. According to the book "A History of Electric Airplanes and Drones" by Kevin Desmond, the "Speeders" have an aerospace aluminium frame and carbon fibre composite body. [9]

As creators of the sport and the hardware that delivers it, Alauda will market to private buyers the world’s only performance eVTOL craft.

Beyond his role as a defining voice in the emerging eVTOL sector, CEO Matt Pearson is driving the rapidly expanding Industrial Internet of Things in space through his work at Fleet.

Speeders

MK4 (Full manned racing):

The Airspeeder MK4 is a manned electric racing quadcopter. It is powered by an interchangeable 500kw battery and has been designed from the ground up by Alauda for racing and performance flying.

It is a closed single-seat cockpit craft and is a carbon fiber monocoque design. Unloaded, a MK4 Speeder weighs 120kg and can fly at speeds up to 200km/h.

Batteries are "swappable" and last for fifteen minutes, so pilots will have to make pit-stops to change batteries until battery life improves.

Race Format

Elite pilots will plot an electronically governed course in head-to-head time trial races.

Races are currently being negotiated in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. Airspeeder will be experienced through global multi-channel streaming. Spectators at live events will be limited to VIPs.

The sport has been designed to deliver the close and intense racing traditional and new motorsports fans crave. This aim has dictated the approach to offer a turn-key technological package from Alauda to teams instead of allowing them to develop their own entirely unique car like Formula 1.

For the series, racing teams and manufacturers will be provided hardware by Alauda as a turn-key solution, but afforded freedom to set strategy and draft pilots, in an approach similar to the early seasons of Formula E.[10]

Pilots

Pilots will be drawn from aviation backgrounds, including; military, civil, testing and motor racing. In June 2020, Matt Pearson announced at the United States Air Force’s eVTOL conference, Agility Prime a call to elite pilots from these fields and the UAV and esports worlds.[11]

Pilots will be tested for their physical and cognitive skills before embarking on a full training and testing programme.

Season alpha

Airspeeder promises to test the MK3 in real-world races by the end of 2020 and has earmarked Coober Pedy, South Australia as a potential site. [12]

In the media

              

References

  1. "Airspeeder flying cars will be the F1 of the skies". British GQ. Retrieved 2020-07-04.
  2. Lieu, Johnny. "Behind the ambitious plan to build and race flying cars". Mashable. Retrieved 2020-07-04.
  3. "SFが現実に!ドローン技術を応用した有人エアレースが始動!!" (in 日本語). Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  4. "FOS Future Lab | Festival of Speed | Goodwood". www.goodwood.com. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  5. "Are Flying Cars Preparing for Takeoff?". Morgan Stanley. Retrieved 2020-07-04.
  6. "Electric propulsion is finally on the map". Roland Berger. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  7. Banks, Nargess. "Alauda's Airspeeder Flying Electric Racer Wants To Speed Future Sustainable Transport". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-07-04.
  8. "Flying cars set to take to the skies in outback South Australia". www.abc.net.au. 2020-06-21. Retrieved 2020-07-04.
  9. Desmond, Kevin, 1950-. Electric airplanes and drones : a history. Boscarol, Ivo,. Jefferson, North Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4766-6961-8. OCLC 1016937270.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. Events, UKi Media & (2020-04-23). "Airspeeder eVTOL racer ready for manned flight tests". Aerospace Testing International. Retrieved 2020-07-04.
  11. Writer, Staff (2020-06-26). "Airspeeder Calls For "Elite Pilots" for Flying Racing Series". Auto Futures. Retrieved 2020-07-04.
  12. "Alauda Plans to Race Two Airspeeder Flying Cars in South Australia". TransportUP. 2020-06-21. Retrieved 2020-07-06.

External links

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