The Freedom Class™ team have been working flat out over the past 12 months designing, building and testing a racing drone that they believe is going to help the sport be more accessible to a mainstream audience and one day potentially rival Formula 1™ at the pinnacle of racing.
Weighing in at 30kgs and measuring 120cm across, the Freedom Class Racer™ will be breathtaking to watch on a race track.
On the last weekend in January, the Freedom Class Racer™ V1.0 prototype was put through its paces at a test facility at Uleybury and the team were extremely happy with the results.
The drone sounds incredible, with the four large propellers emitting a roar that sits somewhere between a fighter jet and a race car. It’s this combination of size, speed and sound that has the team and many others excited.
The Freedom Class Racer™ V1.0 prototype maxed out at 159kph, just shy of the magic 100mph mark, setting the global benchmark of high speed runs in giant racing drones.
“It was great to see the power train work flawlessly after our early challenges.” said CTO Leonard Hall.
“Given the lack of aerodynamics on the test frame we were very happy to see the power train push the aircraft to 159 km/h. From a spectators perspective the sound was fantastic and the aircraft will be clearly seen and heard from hundreds of meters away.
“With the handling, We had tuned the aircraft roughly 10% of the potential of the systems in order to accomplish the necessary air time. There is certainly a lot of potential for an increased accuracy of handling that can easily be added to the aircraft.”
A top speed run ended the testing when the aircraft switched to an autonomous mode while testing the fail safe and hard kill features. The vehicle suffered more damage than the team would have hoped, but testing these safety features is a necessary part of building aircraft of this caliber.
CEO Chris Ballard has welcomed the opportunity to learn from the flights and address the safety aspects.
“This initial testing was vital in our journey to create the ultimate Freedom Drone Racer™. It took longer that we had hoped but our philosophy on safety first meant the development of aviation safety systems to alleviate any future public safety concerns.”
Through the extensive data collection the team will begin building the V2.0 prototype which will be a significant step up from V1.0.
Leonard Hall is confident they will be able to reach a new benchmark, however he notes there will be continued challenges ahead.
“I am exceptionally excited to take the brakes off with the new aerodynamic frame, we expect to see a dramatic increase in maximum speed along with some additional challenges dealing with the extra aerodynamic forces and higher motor RPM.
“It is clear that we will need to find a larger and more open test site to explore the full potential of the Freedom Class Racer™.”
The next few months will see the team focus on V2.0 and continuing to work with the various Australian and International authorities and governing bodies on developing certification, safety, insurance and education.
Chris Ballard explains “Now that we have had successful testing of the V1.0, we will commence sourcing funding for V2.0, where our aim is to pass the 200kph mark.
“With V2.0 we will be showcasing the next generation in aerodynamic frames and high power systems, amazing crowds with a mixture of speed and sound, all presented in an immersive Virtual Reality environment.”