Airspeeder says its electric “flying” race car, the Alauda Mk3, has had its first unpiloted test flights in southern Australia. The craft, an electric vertical takeoff multicopter (abbreviated eVTOL for electric vertical take off and landing) was remotely controlled and the test flights took place under the supervision of Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
The ultimate goal for Airspeeder and Alauda Aeronautics (the former is the racing series, the latter is the manufacturer), both founded by entrepreneur Matthew Pearson, has been to build flying vehicles for the purpose of racing them, which the companies say is the next step. According to Airspeeder’s website, the “successful execution of these flights means that uncrewed electric flying car Grand Prixs will take place in 2021 at three soon-to-be-revealed international locations.”
According to Airspeeder (pdf), the unpiloted Mk3 weighs 130 kilograms (about 286 pounds), can go from zero to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds, and climb to 500 meters. It has a removable battery, which its pit crews have been able to replace in under 20 seconds. It can fly for 10 to 15 minutes on one battery pack, the company says, and it’s equipped with lidar and radar to create a “virtual forcefield” to help prevent collisions.
Airspeeder says its initial EXA Series races, which it’s planning for later this year, will include up to four teams with two remote pilots per team.