flying car drag race

‘World’s first’ flying car drag race takes place in South Australian desert

Image credit: Airspeeder

A flying car drag race played out in the deserts of South Australia last week is the first event of its kind, its organisers have said.

The race was part of a testing session for EXA, Airspeeder’s first electric flying car racing season, created by Alauda Aeronautics ahead of a proposed international competition that will take place next year.

The racing series sees remote pilots take control of full-scale electric flying cars and serves as technical demonstrators for the new vehicles.

According to a report this year from IDTechEx, the market for eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing) is predicted to be worth $14.7bn by 2041.

In September, UK start-up Urban-Air announced it was partnering with automaker Hyundai to build 65 mini airports worldwide that are designed for the new generation of vehicles.

Upcoming race events using eVTOLs will see a grid of full-scale electric flying cars known as 'Speeders' race in landscapes “where motorsport has never been before”, the organisers said.

Teams from a broad range of industries will be provided with the Speeders but given technical and tactical freedom in order to gain a competitive edge.

The drag-race format was chosen as a demonstration of the performance and safety technologies that underpin the sport, Airspeeder said. In particular, the ‘Virtual Forcefield’ suite of lidar and radar-powered safety systems that will be heavily relied upon for full-grid circuit racing. 

The Mk3 Speeders flew at over 100km/h and heights of 10m above the ground. The garage was split into two teams with the red Speeder (team Bravo) crossing the line 3.2s quicker than its black liveried rival (team Alpha).

The drag race took place over 400m distance, as per the traditional quarter mile drag racing protocol. Ultimately, Airspeeder hopes that its “race-craft” will move through rapid development curves that could see them race at up to 300km/h eventually.

The EXA races will see teams drawn from across the world compete in the world’s first full-grid electric flying car races.

Airspeeder said announcements will soon be made about the first tranche of teams that have committed to the next set of races and will also reveal where they will be held.

Matt Pearson, Airspeeder CEO, said: “We are on the cusp of making motorsport and mobility history with the world’s first electric flying car races. This test race provides the world a glimpse at the next generation of motorsport and mobility. This first test drag-race is a major moment in the creation of our sport and a giant leap forward for the development of electric flying cars.”

E&T was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2019 for the official launch of Airspeeder, as part of the Festival's annual 'Future Labs' exhibition.

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