SeaBubbles, a flying water taxi concept developed by two French entrepreneurs, has raised half a million euros and is now eying a partnership with Uber.
The vehicle is a battery-powered oval-shaped pod which hovers ever-so-slightly above water. It can seat up to five people, including a pilot, and reach up to 25 knots. The pod is built with biodegradable material and has zero emissions. At full-speed, it doesn’t create waves, which means it won’t contribute to river wall erosion. And it’s completely silent.
The pod was developed by Alain Thébault and Anders Bringdal, the duo who broke world sailing speed records with their boat Hydroptere, a trimaran with foils that operate like underwater wings.
Thébault and Bringdal were inspired to use this technology for SeaBubbles pods as a way to tackle congestion in Paris. The idea is they will operate up and down the Seine much like Bateaux Mouches but can be hailed like a taxi.
Reports say that the entrepreneurs have been in touch with Uber as they look for additional funding to work on a booking app for the project. The funds raised are earmarked for a full-size prototypes which could be revealed as early as January at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show.
It wants to be operational in Paris by next summer.
Backers of the project include the drone-maker Parrot SA, as well as Partech Ventures, and the French government’s BPI fund.