What do you get if you combine Tesla-style electric vehicles, flying cars, and a sleek water-going vessel? Probably something a bit like SeaBubbles, the French “flying” boat startup which offers a distinctly 21st-century electric take on the classic hydrofoil.
The vessel was created by Alain Thébault and Anders Bringdal, respectively the designer of experimental record-breaking hydrofoil trimaran, the Hydroptère, and a four-time windsurfing world champion. Originally, it was intended to be a water taxi on the Seine in France, but that idea has now been scrapped and replaced with a focus on selling to private customers. So far, the company has raised $14 million from the founder of drone maker Parrot and other individuals and venture firms.
The current “Bubble” prototype version boasts a take-off speed of six knots and cruising speeds that max out at 15 knots. The final production version, on the other hand, aims for average cruising speeds of 16 knots and a top speed of up to 20 knots. The prototype offers 1.5 hours of autonomy and a sizeable five-hour battery recharge, but the finished version will offer 2.5 hours of autonomy and a far more reasonable 35-minute recharging session.
The high-tech vessel boasts some other smart technology, too, including sensors for measuring the water conditions and then making automatic adjustments to the boat’s flaps. All the captain has to do is steer. (And try not to get distracted by the envious gawking expressions of people watching from shore.)
At $200,000, the SeaBubbles boat is not cheap. However, it also won’t cost you nearly so much to run as a regular boat with a standard combustion engine. According to its creators, while a regular boat might set you back between $70 and $130 in fuel per hour, SeaBubbles’ electric creation costs just a couple of bucks.
So far, customers already exist in Russia, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam. It also just closed its first sales in the United States, with an unknown buyer purchasing 10 of the futuristic hydrofoils. The company is now focused on improving its battery charging and, well, delivering on the boats that it’s promised. The first production line models are scheduled to ship (pun intended) this summer.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we’d better get saving. We’ve got some envy-inducing sailing we’d like to do!