Raising boats out of the water on hydrofoils makes them much more comfortable and efficient – and this French design uses electric propulsion and an automatic self-stabilizing system to give you clean, quiet and sexy water transport.
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.
The Bubble Taxi prototype runs two props on a 20-kilowatt (27 hp) electric drive system, and once it hits around 13 kmh (8 mph), its hydrofoils develop enough lift to make it rise up out of the water, allowing a top speed of 28 kmh (17 mph) as it cruises along about 40 cm (16 inches) above the water.
Getting the main hull out of the drink cuts drag by around 40 percent, 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 (25 miles) between five-hour charges. Flying on hydrofoils also takes the craft up above a lot of surface choppiness, making for a smooth and comfortable ride.
Again, 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.
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.
Price is around US$200,000 according to TechCrunch – 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.
A handful of 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. Check out a video below.
Want a cleaner, faster loading and ad free reading experience?
Try New Atlas Plus. Learn more