Paris is once again testing so-called taxis volants – electric “flying taxis” that glide along the Seine without making sound, waves or pollution, reports the Associated Press. This is the third round of trials, following two other tests in June 2017 and May 2018.
SeaBubbles is the brainchild of Alain Thebault and Andres Bringdal, whose hydrofoil taxis, with their egg shape and space-age DeLorean-style butterfly doors, have captured the imagination of residents in the City of Light.
Inside, each SeaBubble has two front seats and, in back, four seats that face each other, similar to a London taxi. When the taxi gains speed, its hull rises about 20 inches out of the water, decreasing drag and allowing for a smoother ride. Slow down, and the taxi returns to water level.
Cruising past the Eiffel Tower and other monuments is sure appeal to tourists, yet thrill seekers may be disappointed. Despite their futuristic appearance, SeaBubbles are only authorized to attain a maximum speed of 25 kilometers per hour, which translates to a tugboat-esque 16 mph. But to be fair, that can sometimes be faster than the gridlock in the French capital. The taxis are capable of going twice that speed, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.
The company is waiting for final approval for an operating license, after which commuters and sightseers may be able to snag a SeaBubble ride with a smartphone app, like an Uber, as soon as next year.