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EMG Enables World’s First Live Broadcast of ‘Formula 1 of the Sky’ Aerial Flying Car Racing with Airspeeder

14 March 2024
Airspeeder is the world’s first racing series for electric flying cars, or eVTOL craft (electric vertical take-off and landing). This brand new motor sport – which is part of the new aerial vehicle industry that is said to be worth £1.5 trillion in the next 10 years, according to Morgan Stanley – aims to come to market within the next two years, and already has craft in the air. To achieve its ambitious goals of becoming the ‘Formula 1 of the Sky’, Airspeeder needed a media technology structure that would enable live broadcasts that could be distributed globally, with high-quality coverage to engage worldwide audiences. The team approached EMG to solve the myriad challenges associated with live broadcasting on fast-moving aerial vehicles, as a proof of concept to move to the next stage of this exciting project. The groundbreaking collaboration between Airspeeder and EMG marks a pivotal moment in the evolution of sports broadcasting, showcasing the potential of cutting-edge technology to redefine the viewing experience.

The Challenge
The project presented a unique set of challenges. Safety was of the utmost importance; currently, the eVTOL craft are operated remotely, but the eventual plan is to have manned craft, so the safety of pilot and craft would be crucial. Available space inside the craft and the added weight of cameras, an RF unit and ancillary equipment would need to be considered. The races would necessarily take place in remote locations, so RF signal availability and reliable connectivity would also be key. Navigating the intricacies of live broadcasting from fast-moving aerial vehicles posed a challenge, necessitating meticulous planning and innovative solutions to ensure the safety of both onboard systems and spectators.

The Solution
An initial conversation at an EMG demo day about EMG Connectivity’s extensive broadcast experience with mini cameras in motorsports led to a ‘lightbulb moment’ for both companies. EMG Connectivity’s expertise in the RF domain together with Aerial Camera Systems (ACS) miniature camera technology seemed to be a perfect fit, so a visit to Farnborough, UK was arranged to look at how the equipment might be mounted on the eVTOL craft. The craft provided more than adequate scope and space, so EMG Connectivity designed a battery-powered RF on-board camera system around the Livetools Fusion HEVC transmitter and ACS’ mini cameras for initial testing at Airspeeder’s HQ in Adelaide, Australia.

Following a month of intensive camera and RF spectrum tests while safely on the ground, the aerial trial took place approximately an hour outside Adelaide in the desert. The Airspeeder team was most concerned that the Livetools Fusion transmitter would interfere with other RF or GPS systems or even the flight control systems on the craft, so the first test flight using a single eVTOL craft was a tense affair, but EMG Connectivity’s RF system proved reliable and free of interference with any other system, and the Airspeeder team was delighted with the live shots that were achieved.

The real test was at the Series Championship in December 2023, also outside Adelaide, with guests eager to see an aerial racing spectacle. There were three Airspeeder craft competing in the Series Championships, and the camera spec was to supply Airspeeder 1 with four onboard cameras and Airspeeders 2 & 3 with one onboard camera each.

At the heart of each Airspeeder was a Livetools Fusion HEVC transmitter transmitting simultaneous signals from each camera back to the Outside Broadcast facility. Along with the onboard cameras, there were also three filming drones - capturing the live race action – successfully creating the world’s first simultaneous live broadcast of an aerial car race. As the world's first live broadcast of aerial car racing unfolded, spectators were treated to exhilarating views captured by onboard cameras and filming drones in the sponsorship enclosure, showcasing the unparalleled thrill of this high-speed spectacle.

Chris Brandrick, EMG Connectivity Commercial Director says: “Participating in the world's inaugural flying car race series is an extremely exciting project to be involved with. It's not just about racing in the air; it's about stretching the limits of possibility and embracing the excitement of innovation. Partnering with Airspeeder enables us to contribute to the evolution of this thrilling race series and continually explore new ideas.”

The Future
Following this successful proof of concept, Airspeeder and EMG’s specialist companies, EMG Connectivity and ACS, are excited to move on to the next phase. With Airspeeder technology still in its infancy, there is huge scope to adapt to challenges while maintaining safety as the ultimate priority.

ACS Sales Director, Matt Coyde, says “It’s been a great pleasure working with Airspeeder to bring the race series coverage from conceptual to live. We very much look forward to continuing our collaboration with them to further enhance the broadcast output of this exciting and unique aerial car racing series”.

Phase two includes fine-tuning camera mounts and tackling issues of power for more cameras and higher RF spectrum availability in remote locations. Another area of development will be the addition of broadcast graphics, which will provide the viewer with crucial information about races as well as Airspeeder craft and pilot information and statistics.

"Looking ahead, the successful proof of concept achieved by Airspeeder and EMG sets the stage for further innovation and deepening collaboration. Our relationship with EMG can only grow as we continue to explore new horizons in aerial racing broadcasting. Together, we envision enhancing camera mounts, expanding broadcasting capabilities to filming drones and integrating live AR graphics to elevate the viewer experience. These unique live views will not only captivate sports audiences but also serve as a proof of concept for major advanced air mobility markets and modern air traffic control solutions for eVTOLs." - Stephen Sidlo, Director of Media and Marketing, Airspeeder.