UPDATED: Is it a car? Is it a boat? Is it… kind of both? Swiss based tech giant ABB has trialled a “futuristic new design” of electric water taxi on Lake Geneva in Switzerland, which it is hailing as a milestone in the development of zero emissions transport.
The all-electric vehicle, which is not-so futuristically named SeaBubbles, gives the appearance of a floating sedan when it’s moored on the water (pictured below), but rises up on a four-keel structure to hover about one metre above the water when in motion (pictured above).
According to ABB, the water taxi will soon be equipped with the ABB Ability Marine Advisory System – OCTOPUS: a software solution that gathers and analyse relevant data to optimise water travel.
The company says further trials of the e-craft – the development and demonstration of which has been supported by the Geneva cantonal authorities and the Department of Energy, Transport and Agriculture (DETA) – will continue in the months ahead.
ABB says the taxi boat’s lithium-ion batteries are charged when it’s docked, and it takes two hours to be fully recharged. A fully recharged battery lasts around four hours, depending on conditions.
It says the OCTOPUS software system will be deployed by the pilot project beginning in early May, enabling ABB to provide real-time data to the SeaBubbles control centre, covering virtually every aspect of the vessels’ operating status.
There is a pretty cool video available here (no audio).
The trails of the e-water taxi come a few years after the launch, in Norway, of the world’s first all-electric car ferries, which in February were revealed to have cut carbon emissions by 95 per cent and operating cost by 80 per cent compared to their traditional fuel-powered counterparts.
As we reported here, ferries are considered to be prefect candidates for electrification, as they often travel short distances and dock for relatively long periods of time at established ports, where they can be recharged.