Battery-powered, zero emissions urban water taxis could be on the River Seine in Paris, France in 2017, the shared brainchild of a windsurfer, speed sailor and aircraft designers.
In a design rendering the SeaBubble resembles a water beetle, with hydrofoils where the legs would be. Those foils combined with an all-electric rechargeable drive system will give the lightweight, fiberglass five-seat passenger craft fast speed even in no-wake zones, the backers say.
Take-off speed for the foils is 6 to 8 knots, with only 40% of the drag of a conventional hull. With foil lift, a top speed around 16 knots it will throw little wake, making it ideal for rivers and inner city waterways, according to the designers. Passengers would embark from small terminal docks, where the solar panel-equipped boats would also charge up on shore power when not carrying fares.
The team includes Anders Bringdal, a Swedish surfing champion and holder of a 2012 windsurfing speed record of 51.45 knots, now CEO of the SeaBubbles venture; French yachtsman and company vice president Alain Thébault, a double world record sailing speed holder in 2009 with 50.17 knots over 1 nautical mile; retired Airbus design Boris Prat; and Philippe Perrier, head of design for Dassault Aviation’s Rafale fighter program.
The company’s timeline calls for production beginning in the first quarter of 2017 with water taxis ready to go in June. Thébault, who raised around $545,000 in financing, is working closely with Paris city officials who see the taxis as a way to redevelop parts of the riverfront through the city. Thébault has also been in discussion with New York City officials, now in the midst of deploying their own Citywide Ferry system and looking for other ways to maximize waterway passenger service.