Telstra Purple has joined forces with Airspeeder to help fast-track the electrification of flight, lending its tech services expertise to a global series of electric flying car races created by the world’s only performance electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) manufacturer.
The partnership, announced on Wednesday, will see Telstra Purple deliver the near real-time virtual race-control system required for the high-speed, close format, multi-vehicle circuit racing in the Airspeeder EXA series.
The Airspeeder EXA Series, which has been described as the Grand Prix of flying car racing, is slated to hold its first series of unmanned races later this year, after the success of the “historic” first flights of Alauda Aeronautics’ eVTOL near Adelaide in June.
As The Driven reported at the time of those trial flights in South Australia, the first Airspeeder races will see an airborne grid of what are essentially giant drones controlled by “the best” unmanned aircraft pilots from around the globe.
Using cutting edge technology, the pilots will attempt to perform hairpin turns along digitally mapped tracks in the skies at speeds of up to 250km per hour, while advanced LiDAR sensors ensure the aircraft do not collide.
Telstra Purple’s race control system will feed essential technical information to ground crews during test flights and races, allowing the aircraft to race safely in close proximity, whether pilots are on board or not.
For its part in the deal Tesltra will also deliver a “fully immersive 5G powered spectator experience,” to signal the advent of the next generation of sporting and entertainment. And while this sounds a bit like marketing hype, Airspeeder sees this part of the equation as crucial for the progress of electric air mobility.
“In the the future of mobility and air mobility and the electrification of flight …there are trillions of dollars predicted to [be invested] over the next couple of decades,” said Matt Pearson, the founder of Airspeeder and Alauda Aeronautics.
“But …there aren’t a whole lot of kids today with flying car posters on their walls yet, you know, we want something that is truly inspiring for the next generation.
“We believe that racing is the pathway to develop the vehicle to develop the audience and the excitement around… the future, and to develop all the enabling technologies.
“So yeah, apart from the fact that you’re going a little bit too fast, a race environment is actually quite a benign environment for proving technologies; pushing technology to its limit in a controlled way, so we don’t have the same sort of regulatory overhead.
“It’s not a 15 year regulatory process to, to get to racing … we don’t have to wait for battery technology to evolve because we swap the batteries in electric pitstops… And then, obviously, building out our race infrastructure with a light footprint so we can go anywhere.
“So we get a sandbox to … go and prove technologies out, and then we can – as motorsport has done for 100 years or more… – pour those innovations back into the industry and enable the industry, and at the same time, show our audience, exactly what’s possible and what’s coming.
“So eventually, anyone should be able to own and fly their own personal e-mobility vehicle,” Pearson said.
Christopher Smith, the head of Telstra Purple and, as he revealed in a video presentation on Wednesday, a former aerospace engineer himself, said the teclo was excited to be involved in a partnership that had the potential to transform the the future of mobility.
“Just as Formula One has driven innovation for the cars we use today, Airspeeder’s vision for the world’s first electric flying car racing series has the potential to transform the way we move around cities,” he said.
“The Telstra purple team through our people’s expertise, technical capabilities and Australia’s … most advanced 5G network can play a really key role in helping that team bring their vision to life.”
“This is a very Australian innovation story,” added Pearson. “This is one of the only aircraft that’s being developed here in Australia, designed, built, tested, proven and raced here in Australia and we’re taking it to the rest of the world.
“It’s amazing to see Telstra supporting and being part of and innovating with us, this kind of innovation story that most people didn’t think would be happening here. We think it’s the perfect place to drive innovation and and take a different approach from the rest of the world.”