What exactly is an Airspeeder? Flying race cars, explained

Flying car races are currently being held in rural areas of South Australia, despite seeming like something out of a science fiction film or a far-fetched dream.

The Australian start-up Airspeeder is responsible for making this innovative idea a reality. They’re planning a series of events using augmented reality technologies, communications, data telemetry, cloud, and edge computing provided by Telstra Purple. The events will feature as many as ten "speeders" competing at high speed and low altitude in close format and are being run from 2022 onward, with the first official event having happened in October.

Pilots aren't on board the unmanned Airspeeder vehicles just yet, but they are planning to be by 2023. 

How Airspeeder and Telstra Purple came to be

Originally, Airspeeder sought near collision avoidance functionality from Telstra Purple so that racing speeders may "digitally bump" one other without physically colliding. However, as our talks developed, we recommended numerous technology possibilities that might assist them in overcoming some of their other challenges, such as developing a communications solution.

As test flights and races take place in remote locations, existing networking infrastructure was in limited supply. To help with safety and performance, the vehicles, or "speeders," must maintain continual, low-latency communication with one another and with ground control teams, constantly transferring massive amounts of data.

Airspeeder required a solution to speed up this process and make sense of the data being delivered to analyse specific factors and fine-tune their vehicles and racing events. Because races were supposed to be portable, network infrastructure also needed to be portable to be packed up.

As a result of this, Telstra Purple built a temporary high-speed communications solution from the ground up, capable of handling large amounts of bandwidth in temporary, remote places, following months of consultative sessions with Airspeeder. Terabytes of data are connected via a cutting-edge race control system for reliable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) connections. 

The communications solution may enable connection in locations where there may be no current infrastructure. As part of this solution, many video feeds and several types of telemetry data (including velocity, temperature, altitude, and battery life) were to be relayed in near real-time to centralised control teams stationed at the site.

Taking a page from the playbook of huge aviation corporations, we've also built a near-real-time virtual race-control system that sends important technical status information to ground personnel during races and test flights.

While this data is critical for preserving security and increasing efficiency, it also enables technologies like mixed reality and networks to give users highly personalised and immersive experiences.

A testbed for innovation 

One of the most exciting aspects of Telstra Purple's partnership with Airspeeder is the opportunity for a real-world petri dish to help us learn how we can improve our service in a variety of different industries and settings. Understanding and learning from the technological application for Airspeeder provides information for future demands, readiness, and preparedness, from form factors to infrastructure and compliance.

It has given us a chance to show off our skills, with a 50ms window for transmitting critical safety data from vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to everything (V2X) such as multiple camera feeds, speed, pitch, yaw, battery temperature and capacity, vibrations, and rotations to the pilots, teams, and spectators. 

Furthermore, being a brand-new sport from the bottom up, a lot is possible for Airspeeder and Telstra Purple. The two organisations anticipate a truly "next generation" audience experience.
This might include employing camera equipment in each speeder and throughout the track so that spectators can switch between different angles at will. At any moment during the race, fans may choose specific racers and see almost real-time telemetry data on the selected speeder's pilot, vehicle, speed, wind resistance, battery use, and more.

In addition, Airspeeder is looking at the feasibility of allowing viewers to watch races using augmented reality, using smartphones to "project" the track and speeders on a surface in front of them. In the future, virtual reality headsets might be utilised to put spectators 'in the cockpit', providing a totally realistic experience based on what the driver sees in front of them.

Airspeeder also plans to use vast quantities of telemetry data to create 'ghost' or digital speeders, allowing players to compete alongside actual cars. Such progress is still years away, but it serves as an example of why Airspeeder heralds a new era of racing, where the digital and physical worlds merge with the advent of new technology and solutions.

With our technological knowledge, Telstra Purple will continue to support Airspeeder at every turn as they seek to revolutionise motorsport racing. Airspeeder is a prime example of how Telstra Purple's knowledge, capabilities, and collaborations generate cutting-edge work to assist businesses in finding novel approaches to their challenges.

What’s next?

Airspeeder is a discussion that our consultants could go into great depth, for the technology, learnings, developments, and applications are potentially immense and our teams have great passion about solving problems with technology.

It’s a fascinating story, and one that we’re only beginning to see unfold.

The technology behind Airspeeder has the potential to revolutionise numerous sectors of industry, including agribusiness, civil infrastructure, utilities, emergency services, defence, transportation, and more. Telstra Purple and Airspeeder plan to use innovatory tools to provide their audiences with a "next generation" event.

Want to find out more about what we can do for your organisation? Speak to an expert