Flying water taxis known as SeaBubbles may become a permanent fixture in Geneva’s Lac Léman, also known as Lake Geneva. Having had a trial run on the River Seine in Paris earlier this year, their creator, Alain Thébault, told French news agency AFP that five of the taxis will begin service in Geneva in April 2018.
Invented by Thébault who runs the company with Anders Bringdal, the electric-powered SeaBubble floats 70cm above the water and can reach a speed of 18km per hour. It fits five people and only makes contact with the water via its four hydrofoils, which reduce resistance, and two small engines, powered by solar energy. It is hoped they will one day be ordered like taxis along the river, helping to reduce traffic congestion in the busy Swiss city.
The enterprise is moving to Switzerland after the company failed to come to an agreement with the French government. The zero-emission flying taxis will be able to transport passengers from Geneva to neighbouring towns, making it the world’s first flying taxi service integrated with local transportation. Flying taxis seem to be the way forward for public transport, as Dubai recently tested its first autonomous flying taxi.
The company announced earlier this year that it had raised €10 million in funding to support the exciting project, as its plan includes being operational in 50 cities by 2024, including New York City, Tokyo, and Bangkok. While it sounds like a marvellous idea, Thébault faces financial and regulatory challenges, of course, as he will have to attract investors and convince local governments to allow his taxi vessels to operate in their waterways.