Airspeeder, the performance electric flying car racing series planned for South Australia, has secured a strategic partnership with cyber security firm Acronis, a major supporter of the Formula One racing series in a high-tech deal that will enable the racing series to fly with “virtual force fields”.
The Airspeeder racing league is planned to commence in 2021, and has been described by pundits as the “Formula One of the skies”.
It has all the air (dare we say) of a Star Wars-inspired pod race, but is not as futuristic as you might first think.
The landmark partnership means the racing league can now claim an association with the famed car racing series, which has been used by car makers to push the boundaries of automotive engineering, and which also has its own electric spin off, the all-electric Formula E.
Like both land-based races, the Airspeeder racing league promises to accelerate technology used in the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOLs) sector – otherwise known as air taxis – which wants to liberate cities from traffic, air pollution and cut intra-urban travel times.
Morgan Stanley predicts the air taxi sector will be worth $US1.5 trillion ($A2.06 trillion) by 2040, and the sector has already attracted billions in development from automotive and aerospace players such as Airbus, Hyundai, Toyota, Uber and Daimler.
But with big bucks comes big data, and big cybersecurity risks.
This is where Acronis – which supports both the Williams Racing and SportPesa Racing Point F1 teams – comes in.
As cyber protection experts they will provide top data security services to technology firm Alauda which formed the Airspeeder racing league, and will be recognised with prominent branding placement on Airspeeder’s MK4 racing craft.
Part of the deal with Acronis will include the use of LiDAR and machine vision technology to create “virtual force-fields” that will ensure the flying electric cars are not at risk of collision when in the air but still able to fly in close quarters.
Acronis partner Tehnov8, which flies under the hashtag #cyberfit as a collaborator, will help to deliver the technology.
Matt Pearson, founder of Alauda and Airspeeder says the deal with Acronis lends validity to the new racing league, which has been undergoing testing near the Australian outback towns of Coober Pedy and Broken Hill.
“At Airspeeder we are creating an aerial motorsport driven by innovation. Backing from Acronis, a business with an extraordinary culture of technological success in Formula One and Formula E represents significant affirmation of our vision to accelerate the next great mobility revolution through sporting competition,” Pearson said in a note by email.
Jan-Jaap Jager, board advisor and senior VP at Acronis said in a note by email that,“Acronis’ place at the leading edge of innovation in data management perfectly aligns with Alauda and Airspeeder’s vision to accelerate a mobility revolution through close sporting competition.”
In addition to the “virtual force-fields” afforded by Acronis and Teknov8 technology, flyers of the Airspeeder league will “benefit from real-time data including analysis of battery and key systems performance”, said the company in a statement.
This will enable engineers to further define strategy during the race to claim a competitive edge, enabling a nail-biting finish that makes motorsports so popular with fans.
“Our proven, integrated approach to providing easy, efficient, reliable and secure cyber protection for all data, applications and systems, will help Airspeeder to enhance their performance on the air track and in the back office. We look forward to delivering on the promise of a true next generation technical and sporting proposition.”
All very exciting, although what we are really hoping for soon is some decent high-speed footage from the company’s testing. Videos shared so far via the company’s Youtube channel seem a little cumbersome for what one would expect of an adrenaline-filled electric flying car racing series.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.