Smart mobility takes to the water
The appearance of a vehicle which looks like across between a car and a boat on the Seine in Paris is fascinating in itself, but also asks wider questions about smart mobility. Firstly, the facts: the Bubble, created by the French company SeaBubbles is a water taxi which rises out of the water at around 12 km/h in order not to create waves or wake. It is also 100% electric and able to operate autonomously, seating five. The battery is charged by solar, wind and water energy gathered by its docking station.
Where smart mobility is concerned, anyone who spends any time in our major cities cannot fail to observe that the part the water plays in getting the population around is virtually non-existent compared to cars, buses, metros… And yet these major cities are located where they are, in many cases, because of the transport possibilities offered by their rivers in the days before mechanised transport. The Seine in Paris, the Thames in London, the Rhine in Cologne, etc. were the very life-blood of their emerging cities.
Nowadays, water transport has, however, started to make a come-back in the very domain in which it started – industry. Huge barges have always been with us of course, but the latest sector to embrace water transport is the construction industry. Developers are using the waterways – the canal running through Brussels is a prime example – to evacuate the excavation waste and bring in the building materials. This is environmentally-friendly to the point that it actively helps the building to gain BREEAM certification.
SeaBubbles says plans to bring its water transit system to 50 cities in the next 5 years, so perhaps a real newcomer (or a return to roots) in the domain of smart urban mobility may be on the horizon.