Last year the French founders of SeaBubbles envisioned a solution to traffic congestion: fleets of river taxis that hover above waterways with “no noise” and “no waves,” hired via an Uber-like ride-sharing app.
The idea is that SeaBubbles will serve densely populated cities with accessible waterways, like Paris, to cut down on street traffic and pollution. The vessels will be able to carry five passengers and a driver, although the ultimate goal is a self-driving system. The boats would charge at their docks and be powered by electric hydrofoils that allow them to hover above the water and eventually travel at up to 30 knots (about 35 mph). The startup has raised $4.3 million in funding to date. Footage of SeaBubbles' first full-scale prototype was released Thursday. It’s 14 feet long and 7 feet wide, and currently can hit a breakneck top speed of about 16 mph. They’re hoping to have boats on city rivers this summer.