The year 2020, a point in time which still sounds so futuristic that it’s impossible to believe it’s fewer than six months away. Humanity was supposed to have colonised Mars by now, not to mention the moon. On Earth people would live in floating cities far above the planet’s pristine surface, and travel from place to place if not by teleportation just yet, then at least by flying car.
Well, that 2020 vision of the past has turned out to be rather less clear than we’d hoped, but it wasn’t far off in one respect. Flying cars are becoming an ever more realistic prospect, perhaps not ready for the daily commute but at least existing as functioning vehicles. And if that prospect excites you as much as F1’s latest stewarding controversy turns you off the sport, then we may have just the thing for you.
Airspeeder, described as a “radical new airborne motorsport for the 21st century” is set to make its global public debut at this week’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. The series, which “combines the format of Formula E, the thrills of air racing and the glamour of F1” has just announced finance firm Equals (more recognisable by its previous name, FairFX) as its title sponsor, joining logistics partner DHL in seemingly giving it the credibility lacking from so many of these types of things.
That’s good news, because who wouldn’t want to see 120mph-capable octocopters with power-to-weight ratios superior to those of F-18 fighter jets racing each against each other? For those interested (and that should be everyone) a Mk. IV version of the craft, developed by Australian start-up Alauda Racing - which aims to use the series to develop a “world-beating flying sports car” for sale to the public - will be on static display in the FoS’s Future Lab throughout the weekend.
There’ll also be dynamic demonstrations of the Mk. II Speeder racecraft - which is remotely piloted for now - adjacent to the hillclimb route, giving the public a flavour of what they can expect when five teams and ten pilots take to the skies for the first Airspeeder World Championship in 2020. Each Grand Prix is set to take place at a different landmark motorsport venue around the world, with Mk. IV Airspeeder pilots competing in timed trials and white-knuckle head-to-head races 20 meters above the ground. Manned demonstrations of that craft are said to be set to begin in the Mojave Desert this November.
Matt Pearson, founder and CEO of Alauda Racing and the driving force behind the Airspeeder race series, said of the developments: “Flying cars are no longer a fantasy, they are a reality and Goodwood Festival of Speed is the perfect place to introduce Airspeeder to the world. We’ve taken design cues from the golden era of racing, and we’re sure the tens of thousands of enthusiasts present will instantly appreciate this evolution of motorsport. Totally absorbing, and all electric, it will appeal to a whole new generation of race fans.” Count us in.