May be a new mode of transport for Parisians to get to work in the morning
The environmentally conscious Paris Town Hall was looking for a solution to reduce traffic jams in the city’s streets and at the same time battle air pollution and a futuristic, hovering water vehicle named Sea Bubble could be the solution they were looking for. The innovative idea is that it will make use of the un-crowded waterways. The egg-shaped river shuttle, invented by the French yachtsman Alain Thébault and the Swedish windsurfer Anders Bringdal, is made of fiberglass and high-density foam. It is powered by solar energy through panels placed on the vehicle and can reach 18km/hr (30km/hr) thanks to two small electric motors. The vehicle floats 70cm above the water surface, only making contact with the water via its four "marine wings", or foils and can carry five people including the driver.
Thébault had been working on the project for the last 25 years, but ‘The idea actually came from my daughters after I sailed from LA to Hawaii recently,’ he says. ‘They told me to invent a zero-emission cab because they were sick of seeing the pollution in Paris, London, and in the US.’ He also mentioned that ‘The vehicle is designed like a Fiat 500, with the same technology but different propulsion. The wings under the boat essentially lift it off the water, reducing the drag significantly’. ‘Initially, there will be drivers, but quickly, our vehicle can become autonomous,’ he added. Now, Thébault is working on some design tweaks to make the vehicle easier to use.
The project has already raised 500,000 euros ($555,000) in order for the company to develop the prototype and has been backed by several investors. Many people have already registered interest in owning their own bubble and if it all goes according to plan, that would be possible for anyone with a spare €30,000.
A public demonstration will take place in Paris next spring, with five Sea Bubbles going down the Seine in front of the National Assembly where passage is set for the ‘flying’ water taxi. Thébault, who also plans to showcase the prototype at the prestigious Consumer Electronics Show in Last Vegas in January, hopes that eventually Sea Bubbles will be able to be hailed on apps like Uber, and he estimates that fares in Paris will be around €10 if and when the project gets the final green light. Apart from Paris, New York city, Florida, London and Geneva have expressed their interest in purchasing the floating cabs ferrying passengers through the cities’ waterways. “But we are taking no orders at the moment. We first have to finish the prototype,” Thébault said.
If the vessels are granted licences to ply their trade on the Seine, specially designed docking stations will be built where passengers can hop on or off and which would also serve as charging stations. Credit: Sea Bubbles
Source: The Local