The mad scientists at Alauda are actually doing it — the Airspeeder flying cars are going to happen. What’s more, they’re going to happen somewhat sooner than later thanks to a seven-figure round of fundraising from Australian technology venture capital firms Saltwater Capital and Jelix, FOREX trading and money management firm Equals, and German logistics company DHL.
These money-people seem to be more than simply investors, too — they seem to buy in to Alauda’s basic premise that racing improves the breed, and they’re all in. “Airspeeder’s founder, Matt Pearson, has an inspired vision of the future of ‘clean-air’ mobility,” explains Andrea Gardiner, co-founder of Jelix Ventures. “We are impressed with the early success of his route to early commercialization through the creation of a flying car racing league. There is a clear global market for Airspeeder and Alauda.”
The global market for this kind of technology is clear — Americans, at least, have been expecting flying cars since George Jetson first took to the skies back in 1962. Since then, it’s been nothing but fits and starts and spectacular crashes.
That slow-going, ultra safe, consumer market approach was probably always doomed to fail, however. At least, that’s what Matt Pearson believes. “Nothing drives technology as fast as competition,” says the Alauda founder. “The F1 racers of the early 20th century possessed a pioneering spirit (that) we are harnessing today to rapidly accelerate progress.”
To that end, Alauda’s proposed racing series will work much the same way the hugely successful Formula E racing series did when it began. Alauda will supply each team with a base set of hardware — an Airspeeder chassis or two, engines, an allotment of spares, etc. — and each of the teams will be free from there to develop parts of their speeder to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals. It’s an approach that Pearson believes will advance not only the technology, but the regulation standards necessary to make these flying cars a more viable commercial reality. “Looking back to the development of both the car and airplane over a century ago, it was sporting competition that drove progress. We are delighted to work in close collaboration with global regulators and the wider eVTOL (electrical vertical take-off and landing) industry to bring closer a revolution in airborne mobility.”
The Airspeeders themselves are powered by advanced, 500 kWh interchangeable battery packs that can be swapped out between heat races or else hot-swapped during the race — though, to be fair, the latter seems almost impossibly dangerous. Four 32 HP high-torque electric motors can propel the cars to a top speed of 124mph (199 km/h). The vehicles are said to weigh 250 kg, giving them a power-to-weight ratio that many outlets are comparing to a Formula 1 car.
They’re fast, in other words, and to show off just how fast, Alauda has put together a new teaser featuring a radio-controlled Airspeeder chasing a Lotus/Caterham 7 and chrome-bodied AC Shelby Cobra around a twisty racetrack. For the uninitiated, there are few cars, classic or modern, that can properly keep up with a well-driven 7 or even a poorly driven Cobra. That these things can fly along the same track and even keep up is a huge achievement– and they do much more than keep up!
You can watch the latest promo video from Alauda, below, and let us know what you think of the flying car’s prospects as a motorsports and entertainment platform in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!