Airspeeder prepares for crewed eVTOL racing with Mk4 design reveal• https://newatlas.com, By Paul Ridden
Back in 2017, Australia's Matt Pearson launched a Kickstarter that proposed building manned electric vertical take-off and landing – or eVTOL – racing machines and creating a new aerial sport around them. The Alauda Aeronautics team canceled the campaign after only attracting 49 backers, but vowed to continue development.
Airspeeder made its international public debut in 2019, and launched a full-sized working prototype in early 2021. After lots and lots of testing and tweaking, a remotely piloted drag race later that year was followed in 2022 by an uncrewed EAX Series head-to-head around a kilometer-long circuit near Adelaide.
Now the renders for the first crewed eVTOL racer, the Mk4, have landed and reveal a complete redesign. Full details are still to come, but we do know that the new racing eVTOL measures 5.73 m long (18.79 ft), 3.62 m wide (11.87 ft) and 1.44 m high (4.72 ft), and tips the scales at 950 kg (2,094 lb).
Where the Mk3 remotely piloted flyer was 100% battery-electric, Alauda has included a 1,000-kW (1,340-hp) hydrogen turbogenerator in the Mk4 manned racer to power the batteries and motors. This Thunderstrike engine features "a unique combuster made using 3D printing techniques developed in the space industry for rocket engines. The combuster's design keeps the hydrogen flame temperature relatively low, greatly reducing nitrous oxide emissions." The intention is to source green hydrogen for the fuel to keep the carbon footprint as low as possible.
The Airspeeder Mk4 is reported capable of zipping from a standing start to its top speed of 360 km/h (223.6 mph) in 30 seconds. The four pairs of shielded rotors are mounted to 3D-printed gimbals, with an AI-powered flight controller adjusting tilt angle for take-off and flight. "This makes the Mk4 not only fast in a straight line, but also able to maneuver with the incredible precision essential in close-action racing," the press release reads. "In fact, it handles less like a multicopter and more like a jet fighter or Formula 1 racing car."