Recently, wheelsnews.com talked about self-driving vehicles, and some of the issues and challenges, particularly those dealing with safety and crash avoidance, surrounding that emerging technology.
We pointed to the prospect of airborne vehicles as a feasible alternative to conventional passenger cars, and to what are now developing as conventional autonomous cars — a prime example of not-so-futuristic, safe autonomous mobility (see “Autonomous Cars: Issues, Challenges, Solutions” at https://wheelsnews.com/index.php/2017/03/29/autonomous-cars-issues-challenges-solutions/ – more-276)
While different technologies and levels of autonomy are still being contemplated and researched worldwide, one company wants to get into the race, literally, to develop and demonstrate a working, competitive airborne vehicle.
Australian startup Alauda recently unveiled its plans, two years in the making, to hold the first “airspeeder” race in the next year. The race entries will be piloted, quadcopter-like flying cars. Alauda says it has a working prototype and is utilizing Kickstarter to fund the rest of its efforts.
The company describes the Airspeeder as “not a car and not a plane,” but “. . . an electric, low-altitude aircraft. . . capable of carrying a single pilot and reach top speeds of more than 200km/hr.” The race car-shaped aircraft is equipped with four custom 50-megawatt motors, and powered by the same cells used in the battery of a Tesla Model S, the Mark 1.”
Robotics and sensors will “ensure safety while putting the driver in control of a performance electric aircraft.”
“It’s just time the world had flying cars,” says Alauda CEO Matt Pearson. “Racing will push the technology like nothing else. It’s not enough to build the speeder: we have to build the sport. We want to bring the excitement and values of Formula 1. . .to build ‘the Ferrari of the sky.”
If everything flies according to plan, Alauda hopes to hold the first Airspeeder World Championship by 2020.
Meanwhile, on the design front. . .When “airborne” is the new norm, what will all those high-fliers look like? Look to Italian designers for some ideas, specifically Lazzarini Design Studio. Pierpaolo Lazzarini has conceptualized the Hover Coupè, that melds retro style with future tech.
The design studio’s motto is, “Think about the future, never forget the past,” and the Hover Coupè is faithful to that philosophy. Its inspiration is the Italian Isotta Fraschini automobile, especially the luxurious early 20th century Tipo 8. Signor Lazzarini says the concept, “maintains the soft lines of the 40’s, yet is powered by 4 turbine engines, similar to the ones in use in commercial planes, but smaller in diameter.”
See a Hover Coupè video at: http://www.lazzarinidesign.net/HoverCoupe.html