Dreams of a race series featuring so-called flying cars is getting closer.
Alauda Aerospace plans to begin flight testing the Mk4 chassis and powertrain, including the first crewed flights of the airframe, in the first quarter of 2023.
The aircraft will be ready to take the start line at the Airspeeder Racing Championship in 2024.
In fact, the company is already looking beyond racing to a world where private flying cars are a daily reality, and a viable means of urban transport.
Its team of engineers and designers, drawn from companies including Airbus, Boeing, Ferrari, MagniX and McLaren, are confident its technologies could make air travel faster, more efficient, more environmentally friendly and more accessible than ever before.
CEO, Matt Pearson said eVTOLs are already a trillion-dollar industry and sees a substantial market for private flying cars emerging in the near future.
“In conventional aerospace, there are about as many private jets as there are commercial jets in operation,” he said.
“We believe it could be the same with flying cars one day, with a roughly similar number of commercial taxis and private cars initially.
“Once we can sell you a flying car for the same price as a Tesla, you’ll quickly see the balance shift.
“Today, private cars outnumber taxis by about 300 to one, so the potential for people to own and drive their own flying car one day is absolutely enormous. It’s a very exciting time.”
Designed and built in Adelaide, the Airspeeder Mk4 is the world’s fastest electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
Capable of reaching a top speed of 360km/h in just 30 seconds, it’s designed to set the bar for performance and technology in the radical new sport of piloted Airspeeder racing.
With its sophisticated electric propulsion system, advanced aerodynamics and a take-off weight (MTOW) of just 950kg, the Airspeeder Mk4 is also extremely efficient, with a projected range of 300km while producing near-zero emissions.
The new aircraft is a development of the remotely-piloted Mk3, which has successfully completed more than 350 plus test flights and took part in two Airspeeder demonstration races in South Australia in 2022.
Airspeeder Mk4 is powered by a 1000kW turbogenerator that feeds power to the batteries and motors.
Specifically designed for use in eVTOLs, this revolutionary technology allows green hydrogen to be used as fuel, providing safe, reliable and sustainable power over long distances and flight times.
Alauda’s ‘Thunderstrike’ engine incorporates a unique combustor made using 3D-printing techniques developed in the space industry for rocket engines.
Its design keeps the hydrogen flame temperature relatively low, greatly reducing nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions.
Hydrogen is an ideal fuel for future aviation, and specifically personal urban air travel.
It has a high energy density and can be stored in a lightweight, compact form, making it suitable for small aircraft; it’s also non-toxic and produces no emissions except pure water, so it doesn’t cause air pollution.
Further to this, because hydrogen gas is lighter than air, it will simply rise and disperse into the atmosphere in the event of a leak, reducing the risk of fire or explosion.
As well as taking the existing eVTOL industry into the next-generation H2eVTOL era, this technology has the potential to significantly reduce emissions and create a sustainable future for individual air travel.
Most eVTOLs steer using tilt-rotors, which are simply positioned vertically for take-off and landing and horizontally while cruising.
In contrast, the Mk4 manoeuvres using a unique gimballed thrust system, whereby an Artificial Intelligence (AI) flight controller individually adjusts four rotor pairs mounted on lightweight 3D printed gimbals.
This makes the Mk4 not only fast in a straight line, but also able to manoeuvre with the incredible precision essential in close-action racing.
In fact, it handles less like a multicopter and more like a jet fighter or Formula 1 racing car.
For more information about the Alauda Airspeeder Mk4 and the upcoming Airspeeder Racing Championship, visit the Airspeeder website.