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Plans for 'flying water taxis' on Lake Geneva hit choppy water

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The "Sea Bubble" - "a bubble with four wings" - is powered by two small electric motors. Photo: AFP
15:08 CEST+02:00
French startup SeaBubbles is facing red tape in its bid to launch a fleet of flying water cars on Lake Geneva.

The hydrofoil boats which hover 70 centimetres above the surface of the water were set to take off on the lake as early as this summer, but several government agencies have put their oar in on the question of the docks which are essential for the operation of the craft.

According to news portal 20 minutes, the initial objections to permission for the building of the water taxi landing stages come from the wildlife and fisheries department, who are worried about the possible impact on fishing, and from heritage authorities concerned about the visual impact of the docks.

In addition, CGN, which operates a fleet of ferries on Lake Geneva argues the SeaBubbles boats could pose a safety risk for its own vessels.

Authorities in Geneva have asked the French firm to look at its designs again while the regional transport department has stressed this is not a 'non' for the French company.

SeaBubbles has faced hurdles elsewhere. Original plans to test the boats on the Seine in Paris appeared dead in the water late last year.

However, the SeaBubbles' creators and the French capital's independent port authority managed to come to an agreement over the 30-kp/h speed-limit at which the vehicles would be able to travel if the project goes ahead. 

Read also: Graubünden starts testing driverless buses

Further testing in Paris is now expected in late 2018.

The "Sea Bubble" - "a bubble with four wings" - is powered by two small electric motors. It is powered by solar energy through panels on the vehicle.

It floats 70 centimetres above the river, only making contact with the water via its four "marine wings", or foils, which reduces the resistance by 30 to 40 percent compared to a boat of a similar size.

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