This Is What The World’s First Electric Flying Race Car Will Look Like
The world’s first electric flight races looks more like a 1950s F1 driver than the Ferrari SF21.
Looking at Ferrari’s 2021 SF21 Formula 1 car, it’s hard to believe it’s designed to compete in the same series as the 1965 Ferrari 1512 – they look worlds apart. So much so that the 1512 looks more like Alauda Aeronautics’ first electric flying race car, the Airspeeder.
It is not a coincidence. Alauda deliberately chose to base the design style of the Airspeeder on British Formula 1 racing cars of the 1960s. This was a period that many aficionados believe was the heyday of F1 styling.
Of course, being an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) race car, the Airspeed ditched its wheels in favor of four arrows, supporting eight motors and propellers that give this modern recreation of a 1950s racer, the gift of flight.
A full grid of over 10 identical Airspeeder Mk3 eVTOL electric flying race cars are currently being manufactured in Adelaide, South Australia. These racing cars will be provided to teams in 2021, in time for the unmanned demonstration races to kick off later in the year. With the launch of the manned eVTOL MK4, racing is expected to begin in 2022.
This is what the world’s first electric flying racing car will look like under the skin
The Airspeeder is developed and manufactured by a diverse yet highly skilled team of leading names in aerospace, automotive and motorsport technology including Mclaren, Babcock Aviation, Boeing, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls-Royce and Brabham.
Although the MK4 Airspeeder is very different from the MK1, with each generation being built to achieve a specific goal, the iterations have been quite small.
The Airspeeder was designed specifically as a flying racing car with a single pilot. Originally fitted with four horizontal propellers, similar to those found on a Quad-copter, it was driven by four custom 50 kilowatt brushless motors.
Each motor powered a 1.3 meter propeller spinning at 3,000 rpm to produce 140 pounds of thrust, which was good for a top speed in the range of 130 to 155 MPH.
The initial design called for the same battery installed in the Tesla Model S (the rumored 100kWh Lithium-Ion version), which would keep the world’s first electric flying racing car in the air for about 10 minutes.
Unlike land-based racing vehicles, the Airspeeder does not rely on battery recharging, instead Alauda opted to swap out depleted units for a freshly charged component while racing. As a result, the single battery pack has been replaced with five easy-to-handle 12 kWh modules.
As the first demo races approach, the Airspeeder Mk3 has gained a strong and stiff carbon fiber frame and fuselage that helps keep the weight down to 220lbs, unmanned. This will form the basis of the full carbon fiber monocoque body of the manned Mk4.
The current 192kW electric powertrain (8 tilting motors, 24kW each), now driving eight 32-inch carbon fiber blades, should give the Mk3 a comfortable running speed of over 75 MPH. A bonus of the electric flying racing car’s X-shaped configuration of eight rotors – mounted in four pairs – should be extraordinary handling, which should deliver a good run.
The Alauda Airspeeder Mk4 is the final design of the eVTOL electric flying racing car with crew. It is expected to reach a run speed of 81 MPH, a top speed of 155 MPH and a flight time of 10 minutes, with a total takeoff weight of 551 pounds.
These Features Of The World’s First Electric Flying Race Car Are Worth Looking At
Reverting to 1960s Formula 1 racing cars, the front of the fuselage has a design very similar to the forward oval opening that supplied cool air to the radiator. The design of the Airspeeder performs a function similar to that of an air intake to cool the on-board batteries.
Blending the old with the new, Airspeeder uses a forward-folding transparent canopy, while a joystick control replaces what would have been a steering wheel in the 1960s.
Four short leg type landing legs sit where the mind’s eye would once imagine the wheels to be.
In any form of racing, safety is a primary concern, and for the all-new eVTOL electric flying racing car, there were many challenges. One of the pillars of aerospace safety, redundant systems, was automatically addressed by the layout of the “Quad-copter” platform.
Nevertheless, Alauda is developing several other flight control systems in-house that will control motors to optimize both the performance and safety of electric motors and propellers.
Looking to the future of the world’s first flying electric racing car, the company is already working on developing 5G and 6G networks to improve connectivity that will support navigation to keep the Airspeeder on track.
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