Marine

Seabubbles brings its electric, self-stablizing, hydrofoiling Bubble Taxis to Miami

Seabubbles brings its electric...
Top speed of the production boat while hydrofoiling will be around 20 knots, or 23 mph
Top speed of the production boat while hydrofoiling will be around 20 knots, or 23 mph
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The Seabubbles team demonstrates how up to six people can fit into the Bubble Taxi
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The Seabubbles team demonstrates how up to six people can fit into the Bubble Taxi
Top speed of the production boat while hydrofoiling will be around 20 knots, or 23 mph
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Top speed of the production boat while hydrofoiling will be around 20 knots, or 23 mph
Hydrofoiling raises the hull out of choppy water for a smoother ride
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Hydrofoiling raises the hull out of choppy water for a smoother ride
The Bubble Taxi offers clean, quiet and comfortable commuting over the water
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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
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The Seabubbles system uses fly-by-wire controls to self-stabilize the watercraft as it flies
The Bubble Taxi's simple hydrofoiling architecture out of the water
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The Bubble Taxi's simple hydrofoiling architecture out of the water
At around US$200k, the Bubble Taxi will make sense to well-heeled private buyers as well as mobility service providers
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At around US$200k, the Bubble Taxi will make sense to well-heeled private buyers as well as mobility service providers
Riding high: this electric hydrofoiling bubble sits some 18 inches over the water
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Riding high: this electric hydrofoiling bubble sits some 18 inches over the water

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.

Riding high: this electric hydrofoiling bubble sits some 18 inches over the water
Riding high: this electric hydrofoiling bubble sits some 18 inches over 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.

The Seabubbles team demonstrates how up to six people can fit into the Bubble Taxi
The Seabubbles team demonstrates how up to six people can fit into the Bubble Taxi

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.

Source: Seabubbles via TechCrunch

SeaBubbles flying in Saint-Tropez

6 comments
Nobody
Having been grounded on unmarked sand bars in marked channels and hitting objects such as underwater rocks and submerged telephone poles also in marked navigation channels, I am a little wary of hydrofoils. What happens when a hydrofoil collides with an object? Add in things like nets, lines, seaweed and you have a lot of water hazards. I'm not sure the advantages of a hydrofoil outweigh the risks.
owlbeyou
Nobody's made some valid points. You wouldn't want to snag an underwater anything. If the manufacturers installed quick-acting sensors as found in autonomous cars to avoid this possibility along with the gyroscopes for stability, this could work. It's also too slow in the video. I guess that speed is proportional to its size. You wouldn't want to bounce around out of control in semi-choppy water, but if it goes almost as fast as a small motorboat it would certainly be potentially successful.
paul314
If it actually is used as something like a taxi, the extra speed could be a big deal in the relatively few coastal places where water connections have a chance to be faster than road travel.
jerryd
Both running aground which in the shallow Miami bay is easy to do and cost of the bay this can't go in as too shallow. Next the water everywhere is filled with old dock parts, tree limbs, plastic, et any of which can take this down. And not to mention crab, lobster, etc traps and their floating lines, floats, waiting to grab it. Instead make a nice Trimaran version that can do the same with only a 1' draft and 50% of the power, costs.
joe46
A hovercraft would be way better, you wouldn't have to worry about snagging on anything.
Nik
I think Joe46 has the real answer to the situation. It would also allow docking without a dock, just ride up the launch ramp, and people can step out onto dry land. The only disadvantage of hovercraft driven by air propeller is noise, but an outboard or deep shaft propeller will cure that.