While most companies in the eVTOL industry are fighting to get their helicopter-like commercial vehicles through regulations and certifications, Airspeeder hopes to begin its flying car races before the end of 2021. The Podracing-type sport will start with three unmanned races before hosting its first crewed race in 2022.
Electric vertical takeoff and landing (or eVTOL) vehicles are similar to drones and helicopters. They can lift off vertically without driving down a runway, hover in midair, and move in any direction (forward, backward, diagonally, etc). Because eVTOLs can come in all shapes and sizes, they could (in some situations) replace traditional airplanes and helicopters, or even serve as Jetsons-like flying cars.
Several companies are investing in eVTOLs, including American Airlines. But commercial flying vehicles need to pass through regulations and certifications, which will take years to complete (rapid improvement in eVTOL tech is also an issue, a companies don’t want to settle on a design that will quickly become obsolete). That’s one of the big reasons why Airspeeder founder Matthew Pearson decided to focus on eVTOL racing—there’s less red tape in the world of non-commercial vehicles.
Airspeeder plans to host its first race later this year, featuring the remote-controlled Alauda Mk3. It’s basically a flying Tesla. At only 286 pounds, it can accelerate from 0 to 62 MPH in 20 seconds and reaches maximum speeds of 124 MPH. LIDAR, radar, and machine vision ensure that the Mk3 won’t collide with obstacles or other eVTOLs. Airspeeder says that a pit crew on the ground can replace the Mk3’s battery in 20 seconds, indicating that races may go on for a few hours.
We don’t know when Airspeeder will host its first race, though the company plans to complete three unmanned races before the end of the year. The company should host its first manned eVTOL race in 2022, which may be the public’s first real introduction to flying cars.
Source: Airspeeder via TechCrunch