Airspeeder Mk3 Breaks New Ground, World’s First Unmanned Flying Electric Race Car

The world of racing is constantly changing, with many different sports forms emerging over the years. But if you watched an episode of The Jetsons or even remembered the pod-racing scene from Star Wars Episode One, your fantasies may have taken one big step closer towards being a reality with a unique unveiling from Airspeeder, the world’s first flying race car.


Drone XL

The vehicle in question is formally called the Airspeeder Mk3, and when you look at it in person, it’s an exciting hybrid of ideas. Looking like a cross between an enlarged drone and perhaps something you would see in a stunt plane with the design featuring an aerodynamically compact profile. The speeder adopts an octocopter arrangement, with each corner housing two propellers. When it’s running without a pilot (Airspeeder is doing some manned tests), the contraption weighs in at 220 lbs, with the craft capable of flying at speeds up to 75 mph.

It appears, though, that the core idea here will be to have the Mk3 run without a human pilot ultimately. We have seen similar things, albeit on a much smaller scale, with racers from the Drone Racing League, but it will be interesting to see how things turn out with much bigger vehicles and are more intricate.


Safety Is Top Priority For Airspeeder

With the technology surrounding the Airspeeder Mk3 being very novel and new, it should come as no surprise that Airspeeder engineers placed safety at the forefront when it was developing the Mk3. The craft will feature LiDar and various radar powered collision avoidance systems that would allow “ultimately safe racing,” as the company calls it. We hope that the technology will allow for safe passing maneuvers, especially in sharp turns where position, altitude, and speed play a role in whether you win or lose.

In addition to the fancy electronics, the body of the Mk3 is also built to withstand the abuse, with the frame, fuselage, and frame all being made out of lightweight carbon fiber. The material cleaves weight and comes with an impressive degree of durability and strength, perfect for occasional collisions in the air (or if the craft is forced down.

Pit stops will be just as important as they are in ground-based racers. Airspeeder promises that mechanics will be able to use a revolutionary “slide-and-lock” battery removal and installation system. This system could potentially play a role in making different racing classes possible, especially if the system can accommodate multiple battery sizes and types.


When Will We See Air To Air Battles For The Checkered Flag?


With all the hype and technology that the Airspeeder Mk3 brings to the table, it’s natural to assume that this is a fantasy limited to sci-fi novels. But look closer, and you’ll find that it’s a world of half-truths. While the idea of a broader racing series is still a fantasy, racing will indeed be a reality, with Airspeeder giving 10 teams an unmanned craft, with this pilot series slated to begin later this year.

Airspeeder is not stopping there, though, with the firm revealing that this baby step will eventually lead to a manned racing series in 2022 with the upgraded Mk4 handling crewed flight. We suspect that picking pilots will be just like what’s seen in F1 and IndyCar, with only the best of the best being chosen for the task. That could include former military pilots, stunt pilots, and potential acquisitions from active air racing series.


We look forward to seeing this race series grow, and we have included a brief video the company released that dives into some of the development that went into it, which can be seen below.