The idea of flying cars is something that has only existed in science fiction since the concept came to life. However, motorsports and aviation fans will likely agree that if the concept can actually be realized, having real racing cars could easily provide those who love the idea of airborne racing vehicles an exciting form of entertainment, as the concept would Ultimately combine the thrill of high-speed racing with the spectacle of airborne wargames. Enter MACA, a French startup that recently announced its Read S11the world’s first hydrogen-powered flying racing car, which ultimately aims to bring the fictional concept of flying racing cars into a racing reality.
Who is MACA?
MACA is a 3-year-old startup based in Aix-en-Provence (north of Marseille), in the southeast of France, that relies on competitive racing to drive forward the technology behind flying racing cars and thus accelerate social acceptance and adoption of future flying cars by both racing enthusiasts and consumers alike. Either, ultimately aiming to introduce the concept of flying cars to the masses as a means of personal transportation in the long term.
The MACA S11 is the product’s next iteration of what started as just a concept for a hydrogen-powered flying vehicle (originally called the Carcopter) built specifically for high-speed racing.
This conceptual project for a flying racing vehicle was born in the Airbus Helicotper in 2018. The vehicle’s environmentally friendly hydrogen-based design came from the minds of two aviation experts: the former fighter pilot Thierry de Boisvilliers (now MACA Chief Operating Officer and President of PATROLAIR), and former CEO of Airbus Helicopters Michael Krulak. The duo decided to create the first hydrogen-powered flying racing car in an effort to reduce the harmful carbon emissions that conventional combustion engines produce on the Formula 1 circuit.
according to Xavier ChamberlainChief Technology Officer (CTO) of MACA, the team chose to power the Carcopter (now called the MACA S11) with environmentally friendly hydrogen-based fuel cells, not only because it leaves no impact on the environment, but also because it helps the vehicle achieve longer flight times than Vehicles powered by electricity or fossil fuels.
In the first year after the group started the project on the Carcopter, they were able to get a 3D rendering of the product ready by 2019, allowing the company to prove the hydrogen-powered race car concept and finally ensure it was viable.
Then, by 2020, they already had a lot of development in the research and development (R&D) phase of the project. However, when the COVID pandemic hit the world on a global scale, both the aircraft and airline industries were affected, thus affecting Airbus Helicopters, which unfortunately had to halt the project and return to its roots during the duration of the pandemic.
Then Airbus asked the creative minds behind the Carcopter if they wanted to create a spin-off version of the flying racing car that this project aims to achieve, and thus, the MACA S11 was born.
Finally, in 2021, The company revealed its MACA S11 concept project at CES 2021They have focused on improving the prototype versions of the vehicle since then to eventually make it a smart, safe and sustainable concept for a flying racing car, which they have continued to show. At CES 2022And recently At CES 2023Where the company revealed the latest design of the MACA S11.
According to the CEO of MACA, Christian Pinothe company is confident that MACA will be the future of racing, as the MACA S11 flying race car aims to achieve the fast racing speeds a typical Formula One car can reach, but with the ability to fly through the air.
What is MACA S11?
Designed as the world’s first hydrogen-powered flying racing car, the MACA S11 features a 23-foot (7-meter) chassis and weighs a total of 950 lbs. (450 kg).
Its frame is made of a fully next-generation recyclable material called Strong Flax Fiber, which is made up of carbon, flax, and wood, which primarily rates the body frame to be 85% sustainable (that’s 85% recyclable), so it’s a very green product.
How does MACA S11 work?
To be more specific, the MACA S11 is designed to operate as an E-VTOL (electric powered vertical take-off and landing) vehicle, coming equipped with three (x3) pairs of electric powered rotors and six (x6) 35kW electric motors powering it with a total of 200 kilowatts of power, all powered by hydrogen fuel cells, which will make the car capable of flying at really high speeds that can reach 155 mph (250 km/h).
As mentioned before, the choice to use hydrogen-based fuel cells to power the MACA S11 is due to the fact that this ultimately allows the vehicle to achieve longer flight times than using electricity or fossil fuels as a power source, all while also making it a more sustainable option for fuels that do not allow carbon dioxide emissions at all.
A 40kg carbon fiber tank is used to store hydrogen fuel in the vehicle, and the 200kW of power produced by this setup is comparable to a 150kg to 200kg lithium-ion battery.
Most importantly, while this vehicle only has a single-pilot cockpit (i.e. a single-pilot flight platform), this hydrogen-powered vehicle was also designed with everyone’s safety in mind (including its future driver as well as everyone around the vehicle), As its driving system integrates an intelligent semi-automated pilot powered by revolutionary AI-powered cognitive technology that is used for dynamic collision avoidance with any potential obstacles in its path, including other vehicles, as well as people, and any random objects.
What are Maca’s future plans for the MACA S11?
The company recently attended CES 2023 to gather investors, where it is currently raising funds for the last prototype stage of the MACA S11.
Most recently, the company secured strategic partnerships with Red Bull Advanced Technologies (formed as a high-performance engineering and sister company to Red Bull Racing) as well as with SEGULA Technologies, both of which provide MACA with all the resources needed to bring the new S11 flying race car to flight.said Pineau.
In a recent interview, MACA CEO Christian Pino stated that “When MACA started development in 2020, the initial question was whether we focused on sports or public transport, and we chose sports. Working in the world of motorsports within a closed environment, around Racetrack, we don’t need the same certifications as one would need to travel elsewhere, which makes product testing easier. Red Bull is famous in the world of sports, so our enthusiasm to work with them is understandable.”
In other words, MACA believes that Red Bull Advanced Technologies has the ability, professionalism and experience to put projects like the MACA S11 together and finally make them a reality.
Moreover, world renowned engineering group SEGULA Technologies also has the necessary expertise and international recognition across several industries (including automotive and aerospace). In automobiles in particular, SEGULA is noted for helping to make vehicles safer, more autonomous, environmentally friendly and connected, and this is a truly essential feature of the MACA S11, as the company’s main goal is everyone’s safety when the vehicle is finally launched.
The current status of the project is mainly for MACA to officially organize the first official full-scale flight show of the MACA S11 with an experienced pilot on board as part of the Paris Air Show at Paris Le Bourget Airport, in June 2023, which will be in June 2023, as the company hopes to be able to display something really interesting.
Once this is completed, MACA aims to finalize the final prototype of the MACA S11 by providing it with a fuel cell-based hydrogen fuel system, which it aims to achieve by the end of 2024.
Finally, the company is eventually looking to stage a potential tournament by 2025.
For those interested in visualizing how the MACA S11 is designed to work and how the first-of-its-kind hydrogen-powered flying racing car might perform, know that the company has a mobile app available that essentially provides people with an AR (augmented reality) experience of the MACA S11 as it flies in a virtual environment.
You can download the MACA mobile app by scanning the QR code below.
If you are interested in learning more about the project behind the MACA S11 and/or if you are interested in following the remaining development phases of the project, simply visit MACA official website.