Australian Startup Alauda Wants to Race Flying Cars by the End of the Decade

But first it has to prove that flying cars actually work.

Alauda Racing

The flying car is an idea that just won't die. A long line of inventors and entrepreneurs have already failed to make successful a flying car, but the concept only gets more attention. The past couple of years have seen a rash of new flying-car projects, although none quite like this one.

Australian startup Alauda Racing wants to hold a flying-car demonstration race next year and launch a full-on championship in 2020. It plans to begin testing a sled-shaped quadcopter called the Alauda Mark 1 Airspeeder within the next few months and is seeking funding on Kickstarter to pay for development work. As with terrestrial vehicles, Alauda believes racing will help develop flying cars by adding the impetus of competition.

Alauda's racer is a single-seat quadcopter with a body the startup says was modeled on 1960s open-wheel race cars. It sports an 8.75 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, which allows a flight time of approximately 10 minutes (races will be short, it seems). The four electric motors produce a combined 200 kilowatts (268-horsepower), propelling the Airspeeder to a top speed of 250 kph (155 mph). The vehicle can cruise at altitudes up to 3.5 kilometers (2 miles).

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Alauda hopes to hold it's first race in the second or third quarter of next year in an Australian desert. Vehicles will be unmanned for this initial demonstration, but human pilots will fly them in the "Airspeeder World Championship" Alauda hopes to launch in 2020. The startup says it is working with Australian authorities but acknowledges that regulatory issues may affect its plans.

Regulations likely won't be the only issues. While companies like Airbus, Uber, and Google co-founder Larry Page's Kitty Hawk startup are all working on flying cars, there has been very little apparent progress so far. Granted, operating flying cars in the controlled environment of a race course will be a lot easier than creating the aerial taxi services many other companies are planning.

Like other new motorsports ventures such as Formula E and Roborace, Alauda must also recruit teams. Considering that even legacy race series sometimes have trouble attracting new teams, getting teams to sign on for a new and untested technology won't be easy.