Airspeeder World Championships launches at Goodwood Festival of Speed…but is something missing?
Forget road racing, the world is being encouraged to look up with the launch of the Airspeeder World Championships launching this week at the Goodwood Festival of Speed…
Remember Star Wars the Phantom Menace? Do you remember the pod racing scene? See where I’m going? There’s no doubt humans love to race things, from snails, to camels, horses, cars, bikes…anything that moves really.
And now we’re being encouraged to look up and follow close proximity air racing with the launch of the Airspeeder World Championships at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Now, drone racing is already a thing and, apparently, it’s very popular in some circles but now the Australian start-up behind the Airspeeder World Championships, Alauda Racing wants to take the philosophy of drone racing with its electric quadcopters and mix in a little bit of Formula E. But one thing seems to be missing in all of this…
See, while Alauda Racing has built ground-controlled quadcopters and successfully flown them it hasn’t released any information about manned flight and it’s expecting a demonstration of this to take place in November. More than that, despite all the electronic collision avoidance tech the company says the octocopters have the blades carry no coverings, the manned octocopters will fly up to four metres off the ground…where will the spectators be? Watching safely at home on TV?
But we’ll come back to that. The launch saw the Duke of Richmond drop the flag on the launch of the Airspeeder World Championships and watched as two ground-controlled Mk II Speeders raced head to head at about four metres off the ground.
In a statement, Alauda Racing said, “The unveil was also an opportunity to formally introduce Alauda Racing – the Australian start-up behind Airspeeder – and the globally broadcast series’ prestigious global title sponsor Equals, the money management solutions provider formerly known as FairFX. With the backing of Equals, and Official Logistics Partner DHL, Alauda Racing will use Airspeeder as a platform to develop highly-efficient and highly-effective ‘flying cars’ for commercial use”.
Matt Pearson, founder and CEO of Airspeeder and the driving force behind the Airspeeder race series, said: “This was a very emotional moment for those of us who have been involved in this project from the start, everyone at Alauda Racing and our partners and sponsors. After huge amounts of hard work, research, technical development and planning this formal unveiling – at an event as iconic as Goodwood – it feels as though all our dreams have become reality and Airspeeder has properly arrived.”
So what can we expect? There’s expected to be five teams and 10 pilots with the Championships being held at “iconic motorsport venues”. “Races will take place under rules similar to Formula E, so each race is likely to involve around 30 minutes of flat-out action and include one pit-stop for a battery swap. The Mk IV octocopters, or Speeders, that will eventually compete in the first Airspeeder Grand Prix, will begin manned demonstration flights in the Mojave Desert later this year. Each will hit speeds of up to 200km/h and offer a power-to-weight ratio superior to a fighter jet,” Alauda racing said.
Here’s how the company described everything, “Initially Alauda Racing will be the sole manufacturer, offering a rigorously-tested chassis and body, robust battery technology and motors and standardised software. This will include the companies own IP, including the safety and collision-avoidance systems that will be vital in ensuring pilot safety.
“Each Mk IV Speeder will be four metres long and will weigh roughly 250kg. They are propelled by eight 50kw motors driving 60-inch blades, with power provided by swappable 500kw battery packs which can provide full thrust for around 15 minutes.
“Each speeder will be packed with technology, including state-of-the-art collision avoidance systems and software to manage power delivery and battery efficiency. With the sky the limit for this new race series, a new approach is needed to ensure fast but safe flight – so a built-in augmented reality vision system will allow the pilot to ‘see through’ the craft’s body. This will provide maximum visibility when manoeuvring and overtaking Speeders out-of-sight underneath the level of the cockpit.”
Practical Motoring has reached out to Alauda Racing and will update this article when we hear back but in the meantime, am I wrong or does this just seem like a horrific accident waiting to happen?