Electric air travel just took an important step forward. The Virgin report that Airspeeder recently did carried out the first test flight for its flying electric racing car, the Alauda Aeronautics Mk3. A remote pilot flew an unmanned version of the eVTOL aircraft over South Australia with the country’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority overseeing the test.
The machine can reach heights of up to 1,640 feet and hit 62MPH in 2.8 seconds. Remote pilots fly in a cockpit-like environment through virtual courses, with LiDAR and radar helping to prevent collisions. Crucially, the design is intended to minimize downtime. While the Airspeeder racer can only fly for 15 minutes to charge, teams can swap out batteries in just 20 seconds.
The test flight clears the way for a series of three-event EXA unmanned races, starting later in 2021, involving up to four teams with two pilots each. The data from those competitions, including the “tele-robotic” mannequin avatar in the cockpits, will ideally lead to races directly piloted by humans in 2022.
Airspeeder will still address many electrical flight challenges, including short-term batteries. However, this test and subsequent flights suggest that EV air travel will soon become practical. It may be more a matter of refining technology than getting into the sky in the first place.
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