The Anatomy of the World’s First Electric Flying Race Car – sUAS News – The Business of Drones
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“Some of the very first Mercedes, Bentleys and Renaults were racing cars. The pioneers of these brands knew that to advance a mobility revolution, they had to build their machines to race. At Airspeeder, we proudly echo this philosophy. To accelerate the arrival of advanced air mobility technologies, we must take advantage of athletic competition. The Airspeeder Mk3 is the result of years of engineering, testing and development with the sole aim of creating the ultimate performance electric flying car.
Matthew Pearson, Founder, Airspeeder and Alauda Aeronautics
During Goodwood Speed Week, Airspeeder unveiled the Mk3 racing prototype to the world. This remotely piloted contraption showed the form of the world’s first full-scale, functional electric flying racing car. Today, the production version of this revolutionary vehicle is being created at the sport’s technical headquarters in Adelaide, South Australia. Airspeeder is proud to confirm the technical specifications of these craft before they compete in remotely piloted races throughout the second half of 2021.
Airspeeder’s mission is to accelerate a revolution in advanced zero-emission air mobility through intense athletic competition. This approach reflects the work of pioneers such as CS Rolls, WO Bentley and Karl Benz who brought what was then revolutionary new technology to acceptance and accelerated its development by racing.
Alauda Aeronautics, Airspeeder’s sister company, is currently building ten of these vehicles for races on three continents in the coming months.
The eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) industry, which Morgan Stanley predicts is worth $1.5 trillion by 2040, is already transforming logistics and even providing medical supplies to remote areas. However, the passenger side of the industry has focused a lot on so-called “electric flying taxis”. These promise to transform urban environments and free them from congestion through safe and sustainable transport.
To realize the potential of this technology, space and place must be created to rapidly accelerate the key elements that will underpin the global mass adoption of advanced air mobility for passenger applications. Racing, as was the case with automobiles and airplanes, is the answer.
Airspeeder will pioneer a suite of technologies that will refine and demonstrate safety requirements, strengthen acceptance of eVTOL and, as a form of future transportation, answer key questions regarding battery technology, noise and regulations.
The Mk3 Remote Controlled Electric Flying Race Car is first and foremost a performance machine. At maximum power, it delivers 320 kW, which is equivalent to an Audi SQ7 performance SUV. The Audi weighs 2,500 kg while an Airspeeder racing machine (unmanned) weighs only 130 kg. It can lift over 80kg, proving the powertrain’s viability for steered racing. Acceleration from 0 to 62 mph takes 2.8 seconds and the Speeder can climb 500 meters.
A Speeder can spin at an extraordinary speed compared to a traditional fixed-wing airplane or helicopter. The Mk3 vehicle has a thrust-to-weight ratio of 3.5, which exceeds that of an F-15E Strike Eagle (thrust-to-weight ratio of 1.2), one of the most advanced combat aircraft in the world. The thrust-to-weight ratio, along with other powertrain characteristics, was verified as part of the extensive test and development program that preceded the start of full production. Indeed, the hairpin-fast cornering potential achieved through an octocopter format has been compared to that of a Formula 1 car, generating up to 5G, with the added ability to maneuver vertically.
Airspeeder’s engineering and technical team is made up of some of the biggest names in performance and racing vehicle engineering, including Mclaren, Tom Walkinshaw Racing and Brabham. On the aviation side of the garage, team members have led major civil and military aviation projects, including project manager Brett Hill’s experience as a flight dynamics specialist on the Boeing 747-8 program.
Together they have developed an advanced carbon fiber structure, providing strength and weight saving benefits. Indeed, there is an obsession with Alauda to shed grams to gain critical performance seconds. An Airspeeder vehicle consists of a molded carbon fiber chassis and skin. This ensures overall strength to maintain the structural integrity of the vehicle under extreme racing conditions and maneuvers.
The batteries have been redesigned from the previous iteration of the Airspeeder to have 90% more capacity with only a 50% increase in weight. The specification of these cells also provides an exciting strategic layer. Power delivery profiles can be modified by ground crews to meet the varying demands of the electronically governed sky tracks that Airspeeder pilots will follow. For example, a layout that demands fast maneuvering around tight turns and climbs will require a different power curve than ones that demand straight-line speed. Ground crews will have to make instant decisions about sacrificing raw power for total autonomy.
Every Airspeeder includes quick pit stops. To facilitate this, Alauda engineers have developed an innovative “slide and lock” system for the quick removal and replacement of batteries while on the ground. This technology makes its debut on the Mk3. Intense internal competition between the in-house pit crews reduced the stopping time to just 14 seconds, which is fully compatible with any form of traditional motorsport on the ground. This should continue to decline. For context, a Formula 1 pit stop took over a minute.
Airspeeder uses a systems approach to security. It is a recognized methodology in military, civil and performance aviation. This means that no single operational failure can lead to the loss of the vehicle’s primary function, which is controlled flight.
In the early stages of the Mk3 development simulation, bench test and integration test techniques were used to fully map these systems. Prior to live testing this gave engineers confidence that in the event of systems failure the vehicles would remain in the air but at reduced performance to ensure the pilot operated remotely in the case of the Mk3 , or in the cockpit in future iterations. , will be able to return to the ground safely.
During flights, all systems are monitored on the ground using state-of-the-art telemetry. This means that ground personnel are immediately aware of problems and can take appropriate action to bring the craft back to the ground under control.
The priority of safety is also inherent in the architecture of the vehicle. The octocopter layout provides stability in the event of a rotor failure or breakage, while the Speeder’s carbon fiber structure was designed for overall structural integrity.
The Mk3, which will be operated by an expert remote operator from the ground, features a suite of technologies and engineering elements never seen before on an eVTOL craft. These innovations will be validated in this key phase of unmanned testing and will include LiDAR and Radar collision avoidance systems that create a “virtual force field” around the craft to ensure a tight but ultimately safe run.
THE AIRSPEEDER Mk3 | DATA-DRIVEN:
Terabytes of data from sensors in every domain of the Speeder’s architecture are pulled over any test or race cycle. This means that pit crews in the field are able to constantly analyze and react to the slightest variation in performance. From a racing perspective, this dictates the rider’s strategy and approach, and in general technical terms, it allows engineers to understand details such as aerodynamic performance and even adjust prop settings as needed. function of the behavior of the Speeder in a multitude of conditions.
Airspeeder works with global cyber protection leader Acronis and its delivery partner Teknov8 to secure this data.