By Dean Murray via SWNS
Designed for sustainable high-speed maritime travel, the so-called electric seaglider operates a few feet off the water's surface.
Rhode Island-based company REGENT said it couples the high speed of an airplane with the low operating cost of a boat.
The firm announced they achieved an initial series of flights of the craft, which they claim makes it the first to take off from a controlled hydrofoil to wing-borne flight.
REGENT said the successful flight demonstration of a quarter-scale, 18-ft wingspan technology demonstrator in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, was the final step in proving the feasibility of seaglider technology.
They are are now focused on developing the full-scale, 65-ft wingspan prototype, with human-carrying sea trials expected to begin in 2024.
With a range of 180 miles (290 km) and able to fly at 180 mph (290 kph), REGENT has plans to service coastal communities such as New York City and Tokyo.
"The REGENT seaglider is the first-ever vehicle to successfully utilize three modes of maritime operation—floating, foiling and flying—marking a major step forward in maritime transportation,' the company said.
Billy Thalheimer, CEO and co-founder of REGENT said: "This is the next great moment in the history of human transportation. There has not been a new mode of transportation since the helicopter.
"Seagliders will bring welcome relief for travelers seeking an alternative to traditional air travel servicing coastal communities such as New York City, the Hawaiian Islands, Barcelona, Tokyo, and many more worldwide.
"40% of the world’s population lives in coastal communities. These successful flights give us full confidence in our ability to apply this technology at full scale and bring seagliders to global commercial service by 2025.”
The REGENT seaglider is an all-electric wing-in-ground effect vehicle, meaning it flies low (within one wingspan) over the water to take advantage of numerous aerodynamic and operational efficiencies, enabling increased payload capability and greater range than other electric aircraft concepts.
The seaglider operates in three modes: from the dock, the vehicle first drives on its hull like a traditional boat.
As it leaves the harbor area and speeds up, it rises on its hydrofoil, a key maritime technology popularized by the America’s Cup sailing competitions.
The hydrofoil offers significant wave tolerance and a smooth ride as the seaglider leaves a crowded harbor.
Upon reaching open water, the seaglider takes flight, retracting the foil and accelerating up to cruise speed—all while staying within a wingspan of the water’s surface.
Driving a seaglider is enabled by coupling advanced digital flight software with simple boat controls.
"People have been attempting to make wing-in-ground effect vehicles viable for 60 years, and in 15 months we have gone from a drawing on a napkin to the first successful flight," said Mike Klinker, REGENT CTO and co-founder.
“REGENT is the first team in history to overcome the deficiency of low wave tolerance with past designs by combining high-speed hydrofoils with ground-effect flight—a crucial innovation that will revolutionize coastal transit.
"No vehicle in history can match the combined wave tolerance and speed of our seaglider.
"I’m proud of our multidisciplinary team that accomplished this major technical milestone—their performance and dedication are truly exceptional."
A company statement adds: "With orders totaling over $7B, REGENT will commercialize seagliders for sustainable high-speed, regional mobility with first passengers boarding in 2025."
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