Slowly, but surely, Alauda Aeronautics’ grand concept of “Formula 1 in the air” is beginning to take shape. Earlier this year, the Australian company unveiled the Airspeeder Mk3, the next version of which is planned to be ready for live competition next year. In these competitions, the flying race cars would be driven by pilots in the cockpit, with a number of safety precautions. To this end, Alauda is also working with Acronis, which is developing a lidar system for the Airspeeder that will prevent the planes from colliding with each other in the air.
The Airspeeders competing in the drag race were still controlled remotely and only had to fly a straight course through the desert of South Australia, but it was clear that the aircraft were performing as expected. The third-generation Airspeeder weighs just 100 kilograms, according to factory figures, and with its 96 kW engine it can reach 100 km/h in 2.3 seconds, while its top speed is around 200 km/h. In a press release, the company says that the race series is expected to play a similar role in the development of eVTOLs as Formula 1 did in the early years, because, as they say, “nothing spurs technological development like a race series”.
The market for air taxis is set to explode, regardless of Alauda’s plans, with Lilium, Volocopter, Airbus and many other companies already developing eVTOLs or flying cars capable of carrying a few people, which are forecast to start carrying passengers by the middle of the decade. Much quieter, greener and smaller than helicopters, the multicopters are expected to become a new form of urban transport, and could even replace long-distance buses and trains in the future.