Flying cars could soon become a reality
Australian company Alauda Aeronautics wants to use motorsport to accelerate their development
The flying car. It's been a pipe dream of the automotive and aviation worlds since the 50s at least. There have been many attempts at trying to make flying cars possible, but they've all fallen flat in some way or another. Perhaps this latest attempt won't, though. An Australian firm called Alauda Aeronautics (through a sub-brand called Airspeeder) is very serious about developing a viable flying car and it wants to use a proven method of development to help create it. That proven method of development is motorsport.
Alauda's succesfully managed to build and test two full-scale working prototypes of flying cars. These new flying cars are fully electric and very agile, with a sleek closed-cockpit design. These futuristic-looking flying cars are intended for a new racing series called the Airspeeder EXA Series. Another racing series is planned to follow beyond that and races are expected to start taking place next year.
Whilst the prototypes are remotely piloted, the proper racing versions coming very soon will actually have a pilot inside. Alauda is already working with NOVA, one of its partners, to train future racing pilots (as they're being called) using a virtual reality simulator that allows them to "experience flight with full unlimited rotation on all axles". Judging from how these simulators are operating, this is definitely something that'll require F1 driver or even fighter pilot-levels of fitness and g-tolerance!
These 'airspeeders' will be highly technologically advanced, utilising the latest in collision-avoidance technology to help them fly safely together at very close proximity. Alauda will achieve this by creating a "suite of technologies known as the 'Virtual Forefield', with these flights providing the first real-world trial of collision avoidance systems driven by [the] latest LiDAR and Radar technologies."
Why is this 'Virtual Forefield' especially important? This technology could be transferred into the wider world of eVTOL aircraft in the near future. With many people predicting that these aircraft could be used to ferry commuters from out of town airports and suburban or rural areas to inner-city locations, they would need to be as safe as possible operating in areas with a lot of air traffic. This is where the 'Virtual Forefield', if it works properly, could really make a difference. A huge amount of potential accidents could be prevented and make air travel as a whole even safer than it already is.
Could the development of flying cars be massively sped up by Alauda's mission of using the field of motorsport as a test bed for technology? Very possibly. Motorsport has already created a huge amount of development when it comes to powertrain technology and aerodynamics, as well as safety advancements. It wouldn't be a stretch to think that Alauda Aeronautics could achieve something similar with racing its 'airspeeders'. As with many near future-level technologies, we'll just have to wait and see how things unfold...