French startup will put 'flying' electric water taxis to work in Paris
It's like Uber for 'flying' water cars, with an über-cute name: SeaBubbles.
This summer, Parisians will get their first taste of 'flying' cars, although they will only 'fly' about two feet above the surface, and these electric hydrofoil water taxis will represent a new angle on zero-carbon transportation, using an underutilized infrastructure -- the waterways in and around cities.
With many, if not most, of the world's cities being either on a river or with an ocean facing, the waterway is essentially a piece of the infrastructure, similar to roads or rails, but are all too often only used for commercial or recreational purposes. Some cities do have boat services that can offer transportation to tourists, but they tend to run on fossil fuels and in many cases, can contribute to other negative impacts, such as an increase in wakes that may lead to riverbank erosion. But an alternative system is in the works, with the oh-so-cute name of SeaBubbles, which promises a clean, quiet, and quick option for commuters and tourists alike.
SeaBubbles, which expects to launch its first pilot boats in Paris sometime after June of this year, has developed a futuristic looking water taxi that could be one of the first green maritime transportation systems. as they are battery driven hydrofoils that are charged with solar power and "generate no waves at full speed." The system is the brainchild of Alain Thébault, who set the Double World Sailing Speed Record with an experimental hydrofoil called the Hydroptère, and Anders Bringdal, who set a Windsurf World Speed Record in 2012.
According to the company's origin story,
"One day my daughters asked me: 'It's great that you hold the Double World Sailing World Speed Record, but why don't you use your inventivity for the greater good, for our planet, giving everyone the opportunity to fly on water?'" - Alain Thébault
The SeaBubbles transports will be made from fiberglass and high-density foam, and use battery driven electric motors to achieve 6-8 knots in the water, and to have a range of 80-100 km per charge, thanks in part to the hydrofoil design, which is said to be responsible for the boat's "40% less drag than a similar sized motor boat." The SeaBubbles will recharge at their docks, where solar and wave or tidal energy will provide the electricity.
"When Alain first spoke to me regarding his idea of the Sea Bubbles we straight away came to the conclusion that this would be something great for the cities. Help those who want to be able, even if for just part of their day to use the waters in around the cities in a silent non polluting fun way." - Anders Bringdal
Bloomberg Technology took a closer look at the project:
The company expects to have its first production units ready in June of 2017. More info is available at SeaBubbles.