New Race Series for Flying Cars
Playing off the idea of “if you build it they will come,” tech entrepreneur Matt Pearson believes his launch of a motorsports racing series for the sky will propel innovation in electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL).
If the popularity of NASCAR and Formula 1 are any indication, there’s an eager fan base that would embrace this latest evolution of racing.
“The vision is simple,” states Dr. David Kellermann, senior lecturer at UNSW Engineering. “If you want to drive innovation in eVTOL transportation, then you look to see what drove innovation in cars: motorsport.”
“We want to build the sports car of the sky, and to get there, we need a race,” Pearson said. “It feels like the world’s ready for this now.”
2020 Airspeeder World Championship
Pearson envisions elite pilots taking to the sky in electric flying cars in his 2020 Airspeeder World Championship. He would like to see 5 teams of 10 pilots compete in different venues around the world.
Pearson founded Alauda Aeronautics in Sydney, Australia, in 2016. It’s this start-up Australian company that created the Airspeeder MK4, a prototype that will eventually be developed into a full-size, one-seater that can be flown by humans.
Final versions will be about 13 feet long and 11.5 feet wide. Powered by interchangeable 500kw battery packs, the vehicle will be able to reach speeds of up to 125 mph. Without a pilot onboard, the craft will weigh about 500 pounds.
The MK4 prototype looks sleek and fast, even at rest. “We’ve taken design cues from the golden era of racing,” Pearson said.
Goodwill Festival of Speed
Pearson and his team showcased the MK4 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (FoS) in England in July 2019. Thousands of people got to see a static exhibit of the vehicle at the FoS Future Lab.
The drone prototype, which was piloted from the ground, crashed during a test flight at the event.
Undaunted, the Airspeeder team plans to conduct manned demos of its flying car in the Mojave Desert in November, 2019. The company plans to build quadcopter and octocopter versions.