Telstra and Nvidia Throw Their Support Behind These Pilots Racing Flying Cars

Telstra and Nvidia Throw Their Support Behind These Pilots Racing Flying Cars
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Airspeeder, the creators of a single-seat flying car with racing ambitions, have today announced their first three drivers/pilots for the upcoming EXA eVTOL Series.

That’s a lot of words. Let’s break it down – an eVTOL is an electric Vertical Take-off and Landing vehicle, with the EXA Series being a Grand Prix race set to take place this year. It’s a futuristic concept that definitely seems a bit sci-fi.

In Airspeeder’s own words, the vehicle features “the same thrust-to-weight ratio as an F16 fighter jet but with the added ability to perform rapid F1 car style hairpin turns”.

Though it’s headquartered in London, Airspeeder is a subsidiary of Alauda Aeronautics, an electric aviation company from Adelaide. This is where the three pilots/drivers will test their flying racing cars.

“This is the start of a new generation of motorsport led by some of the most talented and dynamic competitors from a wide range of motorsport and advanced air mobility backgrounds,” says Matt Pearson, the founder of Airspeeder and Alauda.

“We have been proud to show the potential of our Speeders in test settings but now is the time to get down to the serious business of pure sporting competition.

“Our first intake (of pilots/drivers) selected from the thousands of applicants reflects the breadth of backgrounds electric flying car racers will come from.”

Previously, Airspeeder has done a drag race in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia with its spacey car, but we’re talking about a flying car racing league here.

The first three pilots/drivers are being supported by AWS, Nvidia and Telstra Purple, with different racing backgrounds between them.

The first is Emily Duggan, one of Australia’s best female racing drivers and a former Supercars driver. The second is Zephatali Walsh, a pilot from the Drone Champions League. Finally, there’s Fabio Tischler, an FPV drone pilot.

Initially, throughout 2022, the EXA Series will be driven/piloted remotely, without the operator being in the cabin at the time of flight. Instead, they’ll fly the vehicle as a drone for the first season, with manned vehicle racing planned for the future.

Duggan, Walsh and Tischler will undergo training for the upcoming series, involving over 2,000 hours of combined training in an aeronautics VR simulator, providing a mock circuit race.

Telstra Purple will also be helping out with dedicated crewmates to support the pilots/drivers with augmented, heads-up displays, the development of a telemetry acquisition system and ensuring reliable flight feedback for the pilots/drivers on the ground. Additionally, pilots/drivers will fly the Mk3 and Mk4 Airspeeder vehicles within the Unreal Engine to simulate the racing experience. I smell gamification.

“This is just the beginning and we cannot wait to see Emily, Zephatali and Fabio plot a course to victory in the world’s first remotely piloted flying car racing series,” added Pearson.

I can’t wait to watch the EXA Series. It’s set for 2022 without a solid date.