The allure of flight during our daily commutes has perpetuated the hope for flying cars. However, much like autonomous vehicles, the regulatory hurdles to take such a product mainstream are monumental. Companies big and small continue to develop such vehicles – calling them cars feels a bit disingenuous – and the latest from Airspeeder looks to take the idea to the race track – or, uh, the sky. And it’s electric.
The flying vehicle is called the Airspeeder Mk3, and it looks like a cross between a drone and one of those high-performance Red Bull aerobatic planes – small, sleek, and manoeuvrable. The electric vertical taking-off and landing vehicle has an octocopter layout for the propellers – one at each corner. The company says the Mk3 sports a 96-kilowatt-hour powertrain that provides the vehicle with a thrust-to-weight ratio that’s above two. Unmanned, the craft weighs about 100 kilograms (220 pounds), and it’s capable of fly at speeds above 120 kilometres per hour (75 miles per hour).
Gallery: Airspeeder Mk3
The Airspeeder Mk3 will pack the safety tech, too. It’ll sport both LiDar and radar collision avoidance systems that will allow for close, “ultimately safe racing.” Carbon fibre is used extensively, forming the frame, fuselage, and monocoque body. A “slide-and-lock” battery removal and replacement system will allow for rapid pit stops, which teams could use to their advantage by selecting from a variety of different battery weights, sizes, and outputs.
The initial series kicks off later this year with 10 unmanned crafts handed out to teams; however, this is the precursor to a manned racing series set to take off in 2022 and the Mk4 vehicles. A flying car racing series feels much more plausible than the possibility of allowing just anyone to operate such a vehicle. Flying cars are likely a pipe dream for now, though a high-speed racing series does sound thrilling.