SeaBubbles – a French transportation company that promises to revolutionize water transport in Paris – has announced its plans to launch flying water taxis in the French capital this summer. “SeaBubbles is going to be the future taxi service on the Seine,” Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said, backing a trial of five SeaBubble taxis on the Seine. Hidalgo said the test-period represented a big step forward.
The taxi is designed to hold up to five people – four passengers and a driver – flying at a maximum speed of around 32 kilometers (20 miles) per hour, powered by a battery-driven propulsion system thus releasing zero emissions. Unlike traditional motor-driven boats, the taxi will fly silently, without generating waves. Designed to hover 60 centimeters (2 feet) above the water surface, the taxis have 40% less drag. Hailing a SeaBubbles flying taxi will be similar to hailing an Uber, with an app to provide users with information on the nearest taxi, and prices are expected to be similar to Uber rates in Paris.
SeaBubbles aims to step in and solve a couple of issues at once: providing alternative transportation methods thereby taking cars off the road and providing greener and more eco-friendly means of transportation. Although the flying taxi will launch first in Paris, it is planned to move to other cities in the future.
A similar product – without the flying feature – was introduced in 2003 in San Francisco by Jim Sweeney. At the time, it was the first zero-emissions, hydrogen-fueled public water taxi powered by a fuel cell engine. The product took ten years in the making, and the 18-passenger water taxi ran on an Anuvu fuel cell/battery electric hybrid engine. Emitting only heat and water vapor, if expanded, the fuel cell engine could allow government ferries, commercial marine fleets and recreational boats to have environmentally friendly engines.