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French Company Develops 'Bubble Taxis' for Water Transport

French Company Develops 'Bubble Taxis' for Water Transport

Tuesday, 19 March, 2019 - 06:45
Founders of SeaBubbles, seen aboard a prototype of their water taxi in the harbor of Saint-Tropez, rue the red tape surrounding businesses in France. (Reuters)
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
A French company has developed a mechanism to raise boats out of water by using hydrofoils. This design by the French company, SeaBubbles, uses electric propulsion and an automatic self-stabilizing system to give you clean and quiet water transport, in what could possibly pave the way for the development of so-called “bubble taxis”.

Water Taxi
The Seabubbles team had demonstrated how up to six people can fit into the Bubble Taxi.

The Bubble Taxi offers clean, quiet and comfortable commuting over the water. The SeaBubbles system uses fly-by-wire controls to self-stabilize the watercraft as it flies.

Making its US debut in Miami this week, the SeaBubbles Bubble Taxi is a five-seat design about the size of a family car, with a sleek shape reminiscent of a flying car from “The Fifth Element” movie.

The Bubble Taxi prototype runs two props on a 20-kilowatt electric drive system, and once it hits around 13 kmh, its hydrofoils develop enough lift to make it rise up out of the water, allowing a top speed of 28 kmh as it cruises along about 40 cm above the water.

Getting the main hull out of the drink cuts drag by around 40%, helping squeeze extra range out of its 21.5-kilowatt-hour battery, which is good for up to two hours of use or 40 km in a five-hour charge. Flying on hydrofoils also takes the craft up above a lot of surface choppiness, making for a smooth and comfortable ride.

But, it is worth noting that the numbers above are only for the prototypes. SeaBubbles says its production machines will be faster, with bigger batteries, longer range and 35-minute fast charge times.

Stabilizing wings
If it looks a bit unstable riding on its single, central front hydrofoil and two rear ones, fear not: the Bubble Taxi uses gyroscopic and altitude sensors to measure pitch and roll angles constantly, and the steering system is completely fly-by-wire, allowing the boat to auto-correct for tilt and stabilize itself as you drive.

According to TechCrunch, the Bubble Taxi price is estimated at around US $200,000; a figure that’ll look more attractive due to fuel and maintenance savings if you plan to put a lot of nautical miles on it. But its eye-catching, futuristic look as it glides silently across the water could easily make it a status item for the well-heeled.

Many private buyers are already paid up and waiting for their watercraft in the United States, and the company is also preparing to start production for private and business customers in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

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