The number of cars in circulation keeps growing: they are expected to be 5 billion by 2050, a figure probably destined to increase given the current surge in car production.
This will inevitably lead to a rise in traffic, in particular in metropolitan areas, where the population density is higher. The difficulty in reaching the destination in reasonable time is triggering a real concern with driving, pushing people to use cars less and less. In some cases, in big cities like Shanghai, London or Paris, most residents don’t own a car and use public transports instead; hence the idea of exploiting an alternative travelling route: water.
Alain Thébaud is a French engineer who has dedicated most of his life to making boats. Together with a few Formula One and Airbus engineers, he has designed a hybrid between a plane and a boat able to travel just above water: Sea Bubble is an actual “flying taxi”, as the team themselves defined it.
It is a completely electric means of transport endowed with an innovative technology reducing CO2 emissions to zero and making it quickly rechargeable (its batteries guarantee an autonomy of about 90 km). Its dimensions are comparable to the ones of a city car, with room for up to four passengers, plus the driver. It would also be similar in cost to a taxi, with the advantage of offering travellers a no doubt more panoramic journey.
The Sea Bubble has in fact been designed to travel on foils, arches in fiberglass which, thanks to its speed, can hold the vehicle above the water surface. Besides not generating any pollution, the flying taxi doesn’t make any noise or waves, that’s why it would be allowed to travel in “no wake” areas, usually closed to boat traffic to avoid causing the streets to flood with the moving water.
Why invest in this alternative technology? The main reason for countries like France and England to want to adopt this innovative means of transport is the concern for increasing traffic: the future of transports seems to be in waterways, not yet fully exploited for this purpose. Besides, it is necessary to realize vehicles with a low (if not zero) environmental impact to counterbalance the level of pollution generated by the cars already in circulation.
After being presented at the Parisian fair “Viva Technology”, the Sea Bubble has been tested. Only one parameter resulted above the limit: programmed to travel at the ideal speed of 13,5 knots (25 kmph), this flying taxi exceeds the legal limit by 7 kmph.
A question springs to mind: is their production process as ecological and economically sustainable?
The way is open for a new possible evolutionary model for the modern transport system: today more than ever, the safeguard of the environment and the fight against pollution drive the research and the study of technologies aiming at contributing to solving these issues.
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