An upcoming race series called Airspeeder will test batteries and related technology for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
Despite the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, which has forced traditional race series to postpone or cancel events, a newly-released video indicates organizers still plan to hold races before the end of this year.
The series was announced in 2019. Organizers have already conducted successful manned test of a prototype vehicle, but further manned tests must be conducted once coronavirus restrictions are lifted, according to Euronews.
The vehicles, known as "Speeders," were developed by Australian firm Alauda. Four 24-kilowatt (32 horsepower) electric motors provide power, allowing for a top speed of 200 kph (124 mph), according to Airspeeder.
In races, vehicles will use swappable battery packs that will be changed during pit stops. Each battery pack will provide 15 minutes of flying time, according to Airspeeder.
An array of startups and established companies are looking to develop electric flying cars for use in urban areas. Airspeeder could serve as a proving ground for this technology, similar to the way Formula One and other race series have spurred development of automotive technology, Matt Pearson, founder of Alauda and the Airspeeder series, said in an interview.
Airspeeder eVTOL race series
"If you look back to F1 as a driver of technological development, every modern car has technologies that have developed as a consequence of motorsport. We play that role for the eVTOL industry," Pearson said.
That's also the theory behind Formula E electric-car racing. The goal of the series is to push EV technology to the limit, and yield developments that can eventually be applied to production cars.
Formula E has already achieved some improvements in battery technology. Drivers initially needed to swap cars in order to reach the end of a race, but newer batteries can now last an entire race on a single charge.
In a similar vein, the demands placed on battery technology by a flying-car race series could lead to better batteries for terrestrial vehicles. However, the differing demands (and rules) of racing and road applications mean not all technological developments can be transferred to production vehicles.
Regardless, by showing the performance potential of electric cars, Formula E has helped bust myths about them.
What myths about electric transportation will Airspeeder help dispel?