Written by Thembani Magazi – April 1, 2021
Edited by Asaf Kedem
Welcome to the high-flying world of eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing). eVTOLS are aircraft similar to helicopters but are believed to be more cost-efficient to operate and less noisy—ideal for the future's busy cities. They use a series of rotors, each having its own electric motor, giving pilots the ability to fly slowly or hover in place by adjusting one or more rotors' speed. They’re similar to very large drones.
Some of these innovations are part of ambitious plans by the Australian startup Alauda to bring flying car races to the world. Introducing the world’s ever-flying electric car racing series: Airspeeder. The competing car in the new racing series will also be appropriately called Airspeeder and Alauda already has hired from the likes of Boeing and Renault F1, who will help advance the development of vehicles in this emerging industry.
There’s little information publicly available on Alauda, but the Australian company was founded in 2015 and has backing from logistics giant DHL. The company is specifically tailoring its flying vehicles to sports, which it says will help advance the development of eVTOLs.
Some big names have invested in flying vehicle concepts in recent years, including Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, as well as LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, who recently announced plans to take a flying taxi startup public. We know, this sounds like something straight out of science fiction, but it’s real and it’s shaping up to be the future of on-demand transport (and motorsport of course).
Proponents of eVTOLs say they will arrive before self-driving cars, as the skies are clear of obstructions and hence easier to navigate. Developing infrastructure like landing pads is also a key issue, alongside safety certifications. It’s not all wide open skies for these projects just yet though—the development of eVTOLs has suffered some setbacks in the past. Airspeeder has previously suffered a public malfunction when, in July 2019, the Alauda Airspeeder Mk2 model crashed at Goodwood Aerodrome in England during its annual Festival of Speed after entering controlled airspace. The incident served as a reminder of what can happen when things go wrong with uncrewed electric vehicles.
Artificial intelligence (AI) will help Alauda Aeronautics juggle both motorsports' safety concerns and the aviation industry’s strict regulations. It hopes to enter it into a racing series in 2021, which will serve as a test run before a manned racing series in 2022.
Auto Trendy’s take
This bold new direction in motorsport is likely to be thrilling. Competition drives progress—a philosophy that Alauda has embraced to bring eVTOLs to the market. This strategy has been used to great effect in Formula E and this proven success bodes well for Alauda and Airspeeder. Much like the rest of the world, Auto Trendy is curious to see how well these races work in practice, as the concept seems very promising. If the races can go on without incident or blocking safety concerns, it will be a big win for the future of eVTOLS and the motorsport industry in general. Fans are all hungry to see something new and futuristic and this just might be the long-awaited shock to their system to reignite their passions for the sport.