What if, instead of rushing to the BART or skipping the drive and paying for a day’s worth of parking, you could hop into a nautical Tesla and cross the bay to your destination in 10 minutes?
A Swedish technology company called Candela has developed an all-electric, intelligent high-speed commuter ferry that uses lower fuselage wings called hydrofoils to reduce time, energy and noise during travel. The result will be like a Tesla that can swim, or more precisely, fly.
Candela’s Eric Ecklund, Vice President of Candela, said, “Waterways are great transport corridors, but they are sorely forgotten in the debate about how to make urban transport more sustainable.”
Energetically, it is very difficult to navigate underwater due to the friction of waves and currents moving beneath the surface. High-speed vehicles like motor boats and high-speed passenger ships like ferries need to expend enormous amounts of energy to reach their destination.
Candela’s original design for the boat represents an elegant catamaran floating above the water. While the current San Francisco Bay Ferry holds up to 450 people, this ship is more of a bus size than a ferry, with room for about 30 people and two of her bikes. The idea is to focus on efficiency and frequency of service rather than passenger numbers.
“To make a good electric boat, we need to drastically reduce energy consumption at high speeds,” he explained. “Electrifying a conventional hull doesn’t work, so he developed the first ever electric foil ship that uses hydrofoil, the principle of an aircraft wing, to lift the hull out of the water, reducing friction and energy consumption by 80%. ”
The technology of the foil itself is inspired by airplanes, especially his F-35 fighter jet. Similar to a jet aircraft, artificial stability is achieved by adjusting the wing angle 100 times per second to account for waves, wind, and people moving on board.
“His point of lifting, the foil, is below the boat’s center of gravity. It’s like balancing a pen on the palm of your hand,” said Mahlberg. “Thanks to this active system, the boat runs through swells and waves without getting seasick. It’s just stable, a bit like a modern gimbal.”