Driverless bubble taxis could soon be on the Thames

Date: February 17, 2016 By: Gemma Heath in River Thames News
Driverless bubble taxis could soon be on the Thames

Commuters who are tired of being stuck in traffic jams, and tourists who want to experience a different way of getting around London, could soon appear to be flying on water with the development of an innovative driverless bubble taxi.

The futuristic SeaBubble has been developed by Alain Thebault, a French yachtsman and inventor who has also designed one of the world’s quickest sailboats, l’Hydroptere, which can travel at over 60mph.

Thebault has recently sailed between Los Angeles and Hawaii, and was inspired to develop the bubble taxi by his daughters. They wanted to see an alternative zero-emission form of transport for cities such as London and Paris, to reduce pollution levels.

Fast and sleek design

The SeaBubble river taxi has space for four passengers in each pod, which can travel at up to 11mph and rise above the river at a height of around 2.5ft.

There are many ways of crossing the River Thames, including the road bridges and Thames boat hire companies, but the hydrofoil design of the SeaBubble makes it appear to actually fly over the water. The pods are powered using two electric motors, and the four wings stay in the water, but the reduced drag of the vessel gives the illusion of flying.

You might think that these bubble taxis are just a futuristic vision that will never become a reality, but Thebault has already had a great deal of interest in his invention. There have apparently been enquiries from the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, about using these on the Thames, alongside other forms of transport, such as Thames luxury charters.

Thebault has also gained the attention of investors and some major companies, including Uber and Renault, and 100 people have signed up to buy one.