Could ‘flying’ water taxis be Europe’s answer to congestion?
Paris could implement flying water taxi cruises on the River Seine as an eco-friendly way to cut down traffic in the City of Lights.
SeaBubbles, a flying water taxi running on hydrofoils, could be the next big thing in electric transport.
The French company behind the concept has big ambitions: it wants to use the world’s waterways to transport people across cities, and it wants to do so with “zero wave, zero noise, zero emission”. The technology is inspired by several industries – the foils by aeronautics, the steering and navigation by boats, and the upper deck design by cars.
The boats sits in the water as passengers get on and off, but once the door is closed and the boat moving – at a speed of 12 kilometres per hour – it uses hydrofoils attached to its hull to lift it out of the water and skirt 50 metres above the surface, preventing seasickness, sudden movements or wave rolling. Charged by a lithium battery, it is 100% electric, therefore providing an eco-friendly solution to the increasing congestion in the city.
Fitting four passengers at a time, if approved, the transportation option can be booked on a smartphone app similarly to Uber.
“We believe that pollution and global gridlock are not only threatening our welfare but are ultimately threatening people’s freedom of mobility,” co-founder Alain Thébault says on their website.
“Because in 2050, there will be four billion cars in the streets, and even if they are all powered by clean energies, it will still create a massive traffic jam. We believe that the future of mobility will rise from the water, a natural, historic path in the cities that has been underrated for a long time.”
SeaBubbles have run multiple tests along the Seine over the past three years and the company is now waiting on final approval for a licence, with aims to first start the service in Paris, followed by Lyon, France, and then Geneva and Zurich, Switzerland.