At a time when transportation infrastructure projects seem to be taking center stage in US public debate, a Boston-based start-up backed by some of Silicon Valley's most prominent investors wants to turn the sea lanes along the country's east and west coasts into high-speed transit corridors.
LA to San Diego in 50 minutes? What about New York City to Boston in two hours? And all this without road traffic or airport hassle. These are the sort of commutes that may become possible if REGENT
's seagliders become a reality.
Regent's founders have aviation backgrounds -- including degrees in aerospace engineering at MIT and a stint at Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences -- but they turned to the seas for inspiration when they started looking for new, sustainable ways to transform inter-city travel.
Billy Thalheimer and Mike Klinker have raised $9.5 million from the likes of Y Combinator, Mark Cuban and Peter Thiel, among other investors, to reimagine the wing-in-ground effect (WIG) concept and turn it into a mainstream means of transportation with zero emissions.
Wing-in-ground effect vehicles are a kind of boat-aircraft hybrid.
Electrified transport networks
Since wing-in-ground effect vehicles are considered ships, they operate under maritime regulations and do not face the same operational and regulatory constraints as aircraft.
WIGs, for example, do not have to perform a battery-draining sustained climb upon takeoff, and they aren't required to keep a 45-minute power reserve. All together, this gives more margin for the designers to push the technology envelope.
'Six times faster than the ferry'
The founders are confident seagliders will also benefit from advances in battery technology in the coming years, which should allow them to more than double their range to 500 miles.
For the time being, they're satisfied with being able to extract the respectable speed (for a sea craft) of 180 miles-per-hour for a range of 180 miles, which is enough for routes such as New York to The Hamptons or LA to Santa Barbara, for example.
Edited by Victoria Watcher, 20 January 2022 - 12:33 AM.