Noiseless river 'bubble' taxi sails through Paris test

June 16, 2017
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo took a spin on the Seine for a test ride of the electric Sea Bubble water taxi

An odd-looking electric boat taxi whose inventor believes it could be an eco-friendly transport solution for cities worldwide was put to the test in Paris for the first time Friday.

The brainchild of French yachtsman Alain Thebault, the aerodynamic Sea Bubble made no noise and no waves as it took a star turn on the River Seine with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo aboard.

"It was a perfect flight," Thebault, 54, said after putting the prototype through its paces between the Eiffel Tower and the Musee d'Orsay.

The white craft skimmed about half a metre (20 inches) over the Seine, executing turns while pausing occasionally to yield to passing ducks.

"It's quiet, comfortable and fun," said Hidalgo, who has backed the project from the start and hopes it will provide an eco-friendly alternative for getting around the French capital within four years.

The boat is similar to a hydrofoil, with fibreglass foils that deploy to hoist it into the air, powered by , and capable of reaching the maximum allowed speed of 18 kilometres (11 miles) per hour.

"It works like the wings of an airplane in the air. After it reaches a certain speed the Bubble lifts off," Thebault said.

A Sea Bubble means "zero noise, zero waves and zero (carbon) emissions," he added.

Thebault said he has received "an avalanche of requests" from cities including Miami and Seattle, Tokyo, Bangkok and no fewer than 15 cities in India.

Explore further: French adventurer seeks Pacific record with 'flying' boat

Related Stories

Hydroptere unveils new testbed for ocean records

August 23, 2010

Alain Thebault, the French skipper of the world sailing speed record holder Hydroptere, on Monday unveiled a new prototype of the 'flying' yacht as a first step towards ocean-going records.

Recommended for you

A glimmer of hope for the world's coral reefs

December 10, 2018

The future of the world's coral reefs is uncertain, as the impact of global heating continues to escalate. However, according to a study published today in Nature Climate Change, the response of the Great Barrier Reef to ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) Jun 16, 2017
In the picture it looks like it's creating waves behind it to me. Maybe they are just little ones?
4 / 5 (1) Jun 16, 2017
In the picture it looks like it's creating waves behind it to me. Maybe they are just little ones?

The main wave seen in back continues from in front of the craft and so is probably from another boat. But I agree that even discounting that wave, it does not look like "zero waves". However the journalist may have insisted on using a picture from before it reached full speed - it looks like the front has reached lift-off but the back is still dragging.

But I am skeptical of "zero waves", and I would guess that it is not 'zero noise" either... even the spray hitting the water would produce some noise.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.