A proposed water taxi that soars above the surface is undergoing testing in Paris, France. Called the SeaBubble, it is electric-powered and meant to operate as a water-based equivalent to popular ride-share services like Uber and Lyft.
- The aptly-named SeaBubbles are bubble-shaped and have capacity for four passengers, plus the driver.
- Charging is done at specially built docks fitted with solar panels and underwater turbines.
- SeaBubbles have been tested in Lake Geneva, Switzerland, and the glitzy enclave of St. Tropez, France.
When you’re looking to revolutionize an industry or city landscape, it helps when the product is equal parts James-Bond cool and basket-of-puppies cute. That’s what you have with SeaBubbles, a small electric boat that seemingly flies above the surface of water. This magic acts comes courtesy of an entirely electric powertrain and hydrofoils located underneath the hull.
At the moment, SeaBubbles are undergoing testing ahead of any potential commercial application. (Photo: SeaBubbles)
Skimming above the Seine
As speed increases, the SeaBubble lifts clear of the water, which helps to reduce drag, makes for a smoother ride, and increases overall maneuverability. Would a normal hull work just as well? Possibly, though it’s hard to discount the visual impact the SeaBubble has when skimming its way above the waves. The Associated Press first reported that a SeaBubble is currently being tested in Paris, France, along the Seine River.
The French company’s website plays up both the boat’s futuristic design, along with its eco-minded mission: “Think James Bond car, available for everybody, but with zero wave, zero noise, zero CO2 emission.”
SeaBubble water taxis start to lift from the water’s surface at around 7 mph. (Photo: SeaBubbles)
A sea taxi for land-lubbers
Stretching 196 inches in total length, a SeaBubbles water taxi is the size of a typical midsize sedan. There is space for the driver, plus up to four passengers aboard each model. Weighing roughly 2,300 pounds, a SeaBubble is powered by a 44-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that’s good for an estimated 2 hours and 30 minutes, or 35 nautical miles of range. For land-lubbers in the audience, that calculates to about 40 standard miles.
The SeaBubble water taxi has a maximum speed of about 21 mph. It’s around the 7-8 mph mark when the boat lifts clear of the water and begins its “flying” act, which the company calls “foiling mode.” Special docks are envisioned that would house as many as four SeaBubbles at a time. Fitted with solar panels and wind turbines to recharge each boat’s battery, the goal is to make the fleet entirely self-sustaining using clean and renewable energy.
SeaBubble water taxis would use custom docks to park and recharge. (Photo: SeaBubbles)
There is no official word as to where or when SeaBubbles might enter service as an aquatic form of ride-share. The company says that an electric powertrain helps keep maintenance costs to a minimum, while eliminating all refueling needs. A prototype appeared in U.S. waters earlier this year, when SeaBubbles brought one of its boats to sunny Miami, Florida. To see the boat in action, check out the video below:
WHY THIS MATTERS
New ways of getting around crowded cities have rarely looked as fun and futuristic as the SeaBubbles hydrofoil boat. The electric powertrain makes for a clean and quiet ride, though getting a city to approve the necessary recharging docks and other infrastructure could take some careful navigation.