Now being tested in the Seine in Paris, the all-electric Sea Bubble, a 16-foot, all-electric hydrofoil, could be the water taxi of the future. In other permutations, it also could take you around your harbor or lake, or simply give you a new, cool, eco-friendly vessel. The founders of Sea Bubble say you should think of it as “a James Bond car, available for everybody, but with zero waves, zero noise, zero CO2 emissions.”
Designed by Alain Thébault, who also designed the record-setting 50-knot-plus Hydroptère, a sailing hydrofoil trimaran, the Sea Bubble is powered by two electrically driven props. You repower it at its landing or staging area with a mix of solar panels and turbines to charge its batteries. The Sea Bubble weighs about 2,300 pounds, carries five passengers, and runs in displacement mode up to about 7 knots, when it rises about 16 inches out of the water on its carbon-fiber foils. It then “flies” up to a cruising speed of 12 knots or a top speed of 15 knots.
The Sea Bubble uses a 20 kW electric motor and two 10-kWh batteries. It can run for about three hours at moderate speeds and then it takes two hours to recharge. The company plans to build docks with charging stations in areas where passengers would get on and off the boat.
A prototype costs about $163,000, and the company plans to go into production early next year in Switzerland. It hopes to have Sea Bubbles operating in three to five cities in a few years. Here’s a great CNN video of the Sea Bubble in action: