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Telstra to provide 5G tech to flying car racing series

written by Isabella Richards | September 22, 2021
Airspeeder MK3 in flight (Airspeeder)

Telstra has announced it will provide the 5G communications technology that will be used by the electric ‘flying cars’ in an upcoming global racing series.

The championship’s organiser, Airspeeder, also said on Wednesday it believes the much-anticipated EXA series will launch later this year, pending regulatory approval.

It follows its first prototype electrical vertical take-off and landing vehicle (eVTOL) completing its inaugural test flights in June in South Australia.

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Christopher Smith, head of the communication giant’s services subsidiary, Telstra Purple, said Airspeeder’s race control system will include network communications, data visualisation, edge compute power, vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) communications.

“The high speeds, low latency and high-capacity connectivity of Telstra 5G will change the way car racing is experienced,” he said.

Matt Pearson, the founder of Alauda Aeronautics, which is manufacturing the Airspeeder series, said there are numerous “underlying technologies” to establish flying racing cars into the market, predominately connectivity.

“If we’re going to have all these things in our skies soon, then we need to be able to control them, talk to them … we need to gather all the data from our races,” he said at a media briefing on Wednesday.

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Pearson said in future, 5G connectivity will enable high-speed links between vehicles and ground control, and that is why Airspeeder chose Telstra Purple.

“Telstra is really a natural partner for the types of things they’re trying to do with low latency links, 5G and edge capability,” he added.

The Telstra system will feed essential technical information to ground crews during flights, assisting pilots – whether remote or on-board – to race safely in proximity to competitors.

Paul Nicholls, Telstra Purple’s digital transformation executive, said the first phase of development will kick-off for 12 months initially.

Both companies will collaborate on joint marketing activities, driving awareness and bringing on new partners.

The service provider will also work closely with developing a “fully immersive 5G powered spectator experience” for consumers.

Through augmented reality and mobile devices, the content and data from the races will be easily accessible for fans of the sport.

“All my life, I really wanted to build flying cars,” said Pearson.

“I really wanted to see a future where our cities are transformed into all the things that have been in our heads from science fiction movies for the last 50 years.”

Pearson said there are significant hurdles to overcome, such as regulatory approvals and infrastructure development.

Other considerations such as training, safety and cost have often been major roadblocks for the many companies that have gone before Airspeeder.

But Pearson said choosing a flying car race would provide a critical “testbed” for developing safety and engineering elements for the future of advanced air mobility.

The company’s first prototype – the Alauda Mk3 – completed its inaugural test flights in June in South Australia.

The test flights were taken place in undisclosed locations in South Australia, but were under the observation of Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

All were successful, and according to Airspeeder, uncrewed flying car Grand Prix will begin this year in international locations, yet to be revealed.

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