Zephatali Walsh Wins World’s First Flying Car Race
by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby
Airspeeder pilot Zephatali Walsh has become the winner of the first ever electric flying car race, narrowly beating out competitor Fabio Tishcler in the inaugural EXA remotely piloted race held near Adelaide, South Australia. This was the first occasion in which two pilots had full license to race their eVTOL race-craft in a fully competitive environment.
The race was divided into two sessions, with a rapid battery-swap pit stop in the middle. The tense, closely-fought competition saw three overtakes in just the first lap. Zephatali was able to secure his victory upon overtaking Tischler, who had gone wide at Turn 1. After decelerating on exit, Zephatali maneuvered just 1 meter below Tischler to seize the lead, demonstrating the excitement that the addition of the third dimension of vertical maneuverability brings to the sport.
“As pilots, we’ve been developing this sport behind the scenes over hundreds of hours of simulator, engineering and testing work and through this process we have been united as a group of pilots in one common goal – to deliver this historic first race. As soon as the lights turned green, we became racers competing for a place in the history of this sport and flying cars as the coming transportation revolution,” said Zephatali. “I couldn’t be prouder to know that forevermore I’ll be the first winner of an electric flying car race and I look forward to retaining my crown as we go racing around the world in the coming months.”
This was only the first of a series of EXA remotely piloted races that will serve as the development and feeder series for the Airspeeder fully crewed Grand Prixs beginning in 2024. Future races will include a wider grid of pilots, such as Bruno Senna, former F1 and World Endurance Racing star. EXA’s digital sky-tracks and light infrastructure will allow races to be held in a variety of locations where they have never been held before.
“Every transformative moment in human transportation has been accelerated by motorsport. As we stand on the cusp of the 21st century’s great leap forward in delivering on the promise of flying cars, the role competition plays is as important as ever,” said Airspeeder Founder Matt Pearson. “For this reason, in winning the world’s first flying car race, Zephatali Walsh hasn’t just made motor sport history but writes his own chapter in the genesis of a mobility revolution. This is just the start, this first race offers only a glimpse of our promise to deliver the most progressive, transformative and exciting motorsport in the world. We look forward to delivering many more races and breath-taking moments.”
Alauda Aeronautics, the technical team and manufacturer of the Speeders used in EXA and Airspeeder races, has also developed an engineering and digital ecosystem for electric flying car (eVTOL) racing. For this first race, the team built race and pilot control stations, 5G networks, Augmented Reality (AR) Sky Tracks, and an engineering and team control station. They additionally established race rules and safety, logistics and race management protocols.
The most crucial component of the technical ecosystem is the 4.1 meter eVTOL flying racing car. This electric quadcopter is able to achieve maximum power at 320kW, the same as an Audi SQ7 performance SUV. Yet while the Audi weighs in at 2,500kg, the Airspeeder is only 130kg. The aircraft can lift over 80kg, accelerate from 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds, and climb to 500 meters.
Throughout the development of these races, Alauda collaborated with Telstra Purple, Acronis and Amazon Web Services to create the digital architecture for 5G enabled infrastructure used to manage autonomous and piloted eVTOL vehicles in urban environments.
The Aluada and Airspeeder teams also relied upon expertise from Acronis and Teknov8 in securing and managing telemetry and race data. The staging of the race was supported by the Government of South Australia, which has fostered a thriving ecosystem of leading space and advanced aerospace companies, including co-founding Alauda Aeronautics hyper-factory, where flying cars will be built alongside space-craft, satellites and aircraft.
Read more about the EXA and Airspeeder:
- Airspeeder Flying Cars Ready to Race [VIDEO]
- Drone FPV Pilot Lexie Janson is Going Next Level with Airspeeder Flying Car Racing League
Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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