Alauda Airspeeder Mk4
Beverly, South Australia, Australia
Alauda Aeronautics was founded by Matt Pearson in 2016 and is the creator of the Airspeeder Mk1 (Mark 1) through Mk4 (Mark 4) electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) racing aircraft. Originally founded in Sydney, Australia, the company is now located in Beverly, Australia. It's flight racing company is named Alauda Racing and is located in Sydney, Australia. The Airspeeder's design changed slightly with each new model version but the Mk4 will be the design used for its production eVTOL racing aircraft. For more details on other Airspeeder models, please see the Alauda Airspeeder Mk1, Alauda Airspeeder Mk2, and Alauda Airspeeder Mk3 aircraft pages.
Around the world, most start-up companies are making short range hybrid-electric VTOL and eVTOL aircraft for Urban Air Mobility (UAM); however, Alauda Aeronautics is focusing on building the first low-altitude eVTOL flying race cars and starting the world’s first flying race car events on a global scale.
In 2014, Pearson originally considered hover technology for flight racing but he eventually realized that hovering technology would not only include making flying vehicles but would also require building magnetic race tracks. The racing track would be cost prohibitive because it would mean building expensive tracks in multiple locations around the globe.
In January 2015, Pearson decided that using a passenger quadcopter, for a flying race car, would be easier to design, make and put into practical use. With an eVTOL aircraft, it would be easy to use the aircraft for personal use, to practice racing and to use for flight racing, any place in the world.
Since there’s been cars, there’s been motorsport, says the company and a new era of transport is emerging. The elegant simplicity of multicopters, their practicality, proliferation and the accelerating advance of robotics are enabling new, groundbreaking applications.
The Airspeeder design is based on the 1960s British Formula One race cars. Alauda is pioneering the future of racing motorsport with the Airspeeder, whose main goal is to accelerate the development of electric flying aircraft by placing them in a competitive environment. The first ever coupé of the sky.
The Alauda Airspeeder Mk4 is a full scale crewed racing eVTOL aircraft and is the final design for their production aircraft. It has a racing speed of 130km/h (81 mph), a maximum speed of 250 km/h (155 mph), a flight time of 10 minutes and a maximum takeoff weight of 250 kg (551 lbs). The Airspeeder Mk4 is highly stylized modern streamlined version of a Formula One racing car from the 1960s.
Many of the paint schemes for the Mk4 are very contemporary, have bright colors and have two-tone racing stripes. The Mk4 has eight propellers powered by eight electric motors. The aircraft has been designed to race against other flying eVTOL Airspeeder pilots and will have ground crews to change out batteries during the air races. The air races alone will be very exciting due races being in exotic locations, the types of obstacles found at the racing locations and pitstops will be included during the race. These things combined, including never before eVTOL racing, will increase the suspense of seeing which pilot will cross over the finish line first.
From a few of the pictures being released, the front of the fuselage has an vertically-wide opened-mouth type design, similar to front oval shape of 1960s Formula One racing cars, except the Airspeeder Mk4's design is about twice a high, vertically. While the front opening in the aircraft has a very menacing and rétrograde look, the opening is functional is an air intake to cool the onboard batteries.
The aircraft has a flip forward clear oval window canopy, a control joy stick centered between the legs of the pilot and has four short leg-type landing struts. In one of their latest pictures, it looks like there are LED front side and rear lights, with some lights also on the back of VTOL propeller booms. The pilots will wear racing suits with a full car racing type helmet, according to promotional photos.
One of many important technical aspects of the project is the flight control system which Alauda is developing in-house, which controls how the motors spin and when they are supposed to spin, with the focus of flight control system to get the very best possible performance from both the electric motors and propellers.
The company has chosen exotic areas for their air races such as deserts, islands and bodies of water, where the area looks like something out of futuristic science fiction movies. If you race in the desert for example, and there are cliffs, you can race around them. It's very similar to pod racing in the Star Wars movie, The Phantom Menace (May 16, 1999). Pearson's idea of making eVTOL racing aircraft came from watching several different science fiction movies such as Blade Runner (June 25, 1982), Back To The Future (July 3, 1985), The Fifth Element (May 7, 1997), as well as Luke Skywalker jumping into his Landspeeder from the first Star Wars movie (May 25, 1977).
Alauda has confirmed there are two areas in the world which have been approved for their air racing events, the Mojave Desert (California, USA), and a desert near Coober Pedy (South Australia). The goal is to have at least three races in the first season and then expand the number of races per season after that. The Airspeeders have changeable battery packs and the company envisions pitstops for their air races, just like in motorsports. They'll make a pitstop to swap out batteries, so it will make the sport very exciting. The company hopes to hold the world's first Airspeeder World Championship in Australia, in 2021.
The company looks forward to 5G and 6G networks which will offer the additional bandwidth needed for the Airspeeder on-board computers to communicate with each other. To keep air racing safe, all the Airspeeders will have to be in constant contact with each other during the race, to warn each aircraft if there is a bottle neck or a problem, so that no air collisions or accidents can occur and to keep people on the ground safe at all times.
In October 2020, Alauda released a video detailing their development of the Mk3 prototype, which was in the final stages of flight preparation at the time. Another video released the following month seems to imply that the Mk3 was capable of flight, but an extended clip detailing any test flight that occurred was not released. Any form of future demonstrated flight capability would represent a major step in progress towards the eventual completion of the Mk4 production model.
Alauda is being funded by Australian and Germany venture capital firms Saltwater Capital and Jelix Ventures, and also by the corporations Equals and DHL. Alauda Aeronautics is building its vehicles at its test facility in the Australian city of Adelaide and its commercial base is in London.
- Aircraft type: Racing eVTOL aircraft
- Capacity: 1 pilot
- Maximum speed: 200 km/h (124 mph)
- Racing speed: 130 km/h (81 mph)
- Maximum takeoff weight: 250 kg (551 lbs)
- Empty weight: 120 kg (265 lbs)
- Flight time: 10 minutes (approximately)
- Thrust ratio: 3.6:1
- Propellers: 8 - 81.28 CM (32 inches) carbon fiber blades
- Electric Motors: 8 (24 Kw motors, each) with tilting motor technology
- Batteries: 5 - 12kWh interchangeable batteries
- Length: 4 m (13.1 feet)
- Windows: Panoramic window provides spectacular views.
- Landing gear: Skid type landing gear
- Safety Features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft so if one or more motors or propellers fail, the other working motors and propellers can safely land the aircraft. The aircraft also has multiple types of safety features including software technology and sensors. The key safety features are to keep the pilot from crashing the aircraft by itself, so they don't crash the aircraft into other racing aircraft while racing, to keep pilots from flying too high or low and to protect crowds during the races. In summary, Alauda is developing their software to not only push the limits their aircraft to help pilots get the fastest possible speeds when racing, but also are including high-speed collision avoidance technology to ensure the safety of pilots when many vehicles are simultaneously racing.
- Search eVTOL News posts
- Alauda Aeronautics Airspeeder website
- Alauda Racing website
- Alauda Racing on Facebook
- Alauda Racing on Twitter
- Alauda Racing on Vimeo
- Airspeeder on YouTube
- Alauda Aeronautics Airspeeder Kickstarter (Cancelled on Dec. 29, 2017)
- Article: Flying cars don't exist yet, but one company already wants to race them in the desert, The Verge, Dec. 11, 2017
- Article: Australian Startup Alauda Wants to Race Flying Cars by the End of the Decade, The Drive, Dec. 12, 2017
- Article: Meet Alauda, the company that wants to build flying cars and race them, Mashable, Dec. 14. 2017
- Article: 'world's first flying car' race could predict the future of sports, DesignBoom, Dec. 20, 2017
- Article: This Aussie startup wants to launch a flying car grand prix, The Sydney Moring Herald, Mar. 23, 2018.
- Video: We Build Flying Race Cars (Up to Speed: Episode 1), Airspeeder, Oct. 26, 2018
- Video: Race Track Recon (Up to Speed: Episode 2), Airspeeder, Nov. 3, 2018
- Video: How Not to Fly a Flying Race Car (Up to Speed: Episode 3), Airspeeder, Nov. 10, 2018
- Video: Speed Controller Pain (Up to Speed: Episode 4), Airspeeder, Nov. 23, 2018
- Video: Flying Car Blues (Up to Speed: Episode 5), Airspeeder, Nov. 30, 2018
- Video: Leveling Up (Up to Speed: Episode 6), Airspeeder, Dec. 16, 2018
- Video: Last chance (Up to speed: Episode 7), Airspeeder, Feb. 2, 2019
- Video: Heading West (Up to Speed: Episode 8), Airspeeder, Feb. 9, 2019
- Video: Quantum Leap (Up to Speed: Episode 9), Airspeeder, Mar. 27, 2019
- Video: Send off (Up to Speed: Episode 10), Airspeeder, Apr. 22, 2019
- Article: Certifiably crazy: how the world's first flying car racing league was born, Tech Radar, Apr. 26, 2019
- Video: Airspeeder Teaser, Airspeeder, Apr. 5, 2020
- Article: Alauda’s Airspeeder Flying Electric Racer Wants To Speed Future Sustainable Transport, Forbes, April 6, 2020
- Article: Meet the Airspeeder, the New Electric VTOL That Looks (and Flies) Like a Formula 1 Race car,
Robb Report, Apr. 21, 2020
- Article: Airspeeder flying cars will be the F1 of the skies, GQ Magazine, June 9, 2020
- Article: Airspeeder Testing Program To Take Place Near Coober Pedy, Coober Pedy Regional
Times, June 12, 2020
- Article: Acronis to provide cyber solutions for Airspeeder eVTOL racing series, eVTOL, Sept. 8, 2020
- Video: Electric Flying Cars Get SAFETY Boost | Airspeeder, Airspeeder, Oct. 9, 2020
- Video: Powering Up Our eVTOL Flying Car | Airspeeder, Airspeeder, Nov. 20, 2020
- Article: Airspeeder strengthens global team with addition of aviation, aerospace, eVTOL and motorsport experts, eVTOL Insights, Mar. 16, 2021