Take a seat: new Airspeeder Mk4 is first 'flying racing car' with room for a pilot

21 Feb 2023

The organiser of the Airspeeder EXA motorsport category for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) craft has revealed the first crewed version of its ‘flying racing car’.

The new Airspeeder Mk4 is claimed to be the world’s fastest eVTOL craft, with a top speed of 225mph that it can reach in 30 seconds from a standing start. It will be used for a new racing category for piloted machines that is due to launch in 2024.

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The machine and the Airspeeder category have been developed by Australian firm Alauda Aeronautics. The craft is a development of the remotely piloted Airspeeder Mk3, which has been used to conduct more than 350 test flights and two demonstration races.

Alauda Aeronautics is now seeking manufacturer partners and motorsport teams to get involved in the category, with entries now open for the planned start in 2024.

The machine is a bespoke racing eVTOL craft, so the focus has been on offering agile handling at high speeds and low altitudes. The firm claims that it features technologies inspired by the space industry.

The Airspeeder Mk4 has a take-off weight of 950kg, and is powered by a 1000kW Thunderstrike hydrogen turbogenerator. That is used to generate power to charge up the batteries, which in turn is fed to the motors. Alauda Aeronautics claim the machine will have a projected range of around 188 miles and produce “near-zero” emissions.

The Thunderstike unit features a 3D-printed combustor that is designed to keep the hydrogen flame temperature low, which the firm says greatly reduces nitrous oxide emissions.

Another bit of space tech is the artificial intelligence-designed gimballed thrust system. In place of the tilt rotors that are used to steer many eVTOL, the Airspeeder Mk3 uses AI to adjust four rotor pairs that are mounted on 3D-printed gimbals. Alauda says that helps ensure straight-line speed, while also aiding handling.

Calling on OEMs to get involved in the Airspeeder series, company boss Matt Pearson said: “Now is the time for the world’s most progressive, innovative and ambitious automotive brands, OEM manufacturers and motorsport teams to be part of a truly revolutionary new motorsport.”

Alauda is planning to start flight testing the Airspeeder Mk4 in the first quarter of this year.


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