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You read that bit right, and for confirmation head to the cyber tech company Acronis’ stand at Gitex Global 2021, where you will come across the ‘Airspeeder’. Billed as the world’s first electric flying racing car, the Airspeeder prototype is being debuted for the first time in the UAE.

It joins a growing list of ‘electric vertical take-off and landing’ (or eVTOL) flying concepts that expect to take to the skies soon enough.

“Our Speeders will fly in 20-minute bursts with rapid pit stops, [and] adding an important and compelling strategic layer to the race action,” said Jack Withinshaw, Chief Commercial Officer for Airspeeder.

Much in the “same spirit as Formula” One races.

The Airspeeder are from the manufacturer Alauda, and the intention is to have them ‘race’ only in the air. “Our Speeders exclusively operate in the sky with rapid acceleration capability,” said Withinshaw. “Indeed, they have a similar thrust-to-weight ratio as an F-16 jet and move from 0-100 km/h in sub-2.5 seconds.”

Stock - Airspeeder
Image Credit: Supplied

Will it fly – commercially?

Withinshaw doesn’t seem to be in doubt about commercial possibilities, when the Airspeeder makes that transition from a cool prototype to a hot set of flying wheels. “Elite” pilots drawn from aviation, motorsport – and “even eSports” – will fly these machines through electrically governed courses “above some of the most visually arresting locations in the world”.

“The eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) industry is predicted to be $1.5 trillion by 2040,” the official added. “As a mobility revolution, electric flying cars have the potential to completely transform the way that we move around urban settings.

“Indeed, they are already finding potent commercial applications in the logistics (check out ArdentX Services) and even remote medical supply fields. What Aisrpseeder does by going racing is provide a space and place for the industry to rapidly develop the safety technologies, digital ecosystem and performance and dynamics innovations that will hasten the arrival of these key innovations.

“Our cyber protection partner, Acronis, and their cyber fit delivery partner, Teknov8, secure the valuable data that informs key engineering and race-strategy decisions. This is a vital innovation on the path to the commercialisation of this industry.”WHY HAVE THE AIRSPEEDER IN RACING?For the manufacturer, being in racing is what grabs attention – and speeds up progress on the development side. 

“Quite simply, racing has always been an accelerative force for progress at the dawn of any mobility revolution,” said Jack Withinshaw. “You have to look at the technological and safety features that have filtered from F1 into mainstream road-car use to see the progress that is forged within sporting competition. 

“We are creating motorsport built entirely for the requirements of the 21st century. Airspeeder’s races will be minimal impact because we are powered by clean-air technology and don’t require the burdensome infrastructure of more traditional legacy motorsports. This will drive change and excite an entirely new generation native to eSports and with enormous sensitivity to the global requirement to consume less.”