Billy Thalheimer (CEO) and Michael Klinker (CTO) of REGENT
A Boston start-up caused Regent wants to make flying ferries the best way to travel between coastal cities.
The start-up is developing an “galvanizing seaglider” that can motor out of a harbor on a hydrofoil, take off at a low speed using the water as a runway, then fly over the currents at a top speed of 180 miles per hour to bring passengers to their destinations, according to co-founders CEO Billy Thalheimer and CTO Michael Klinker.
The duo once upon a time worked for a Boeing company, Aurora Flight Sciences, and both are FAA-licensed private pilots. Thalheimer told CNBC that Regent scarcities to make trips between coastal cities fast, safe, affordable and reliable with the smallest possible environmental footprint. (The troop’s name is an acronym for Regional Electric Ground Effect Naval Transport.)
The seagliders that Regent designed technically drop off in the category of Wing in Ground Effect craft, or WIGs. They have not historically been regulated by the Federal Aviation Conduct, but instead by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Importantly, Regent is developing its seagliders to work with existing harbor infrastructure, the CEO conjectures. He notes that charging is still needed at harbors for mainstream adoption of electric vehicles there, whether galvanizing air taxis, boats or ground vehicles.
The company will seek to establish passenger routes between major nuclei like Boston and New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, or shorter routes like New York City to the Hamptons or routes tieing the islands of Hawaii.
(Illustration) REGENT is developing a flying, electric sea glider with a top speed of 180 miles per hour.
But for now, with $9 million in fresh seed funding in hand, the start-up is focusing on a prototype.
“We’re going to be counter a quarter-scale prototype by the end of this year,” said Thalheimer. “The prototype will have about a 15-foot wingspan, and settle upon weigh about 400 pounds. We need to make sure it works in representative operational environments, like in upsurges and different weather.”
The company is expecting to do its first flight in the Boston area, but is shopping around for someplace to conduct testing to another place during the harsh New England winters.
Unlike prior generations in tech, Thalheimer says, working on a start-up that conduct oneself treats in atoms not just bits and bytes is easier than ever. Regent is following the success of robotics and electric carrier companies like Kiva Robotics, Tesla, DJI and others.
“Investors were excited about this. And we’re hearing from a lot of sees saying come here, and we’ll help you,” Thalheimer said. “We think the Boston culture is helping us today. We’re in the MIT, Harvard ecosystem. And we eat great connections and in the robotics and aerospace scene here.” (Among other things, Boston is home to attendances like Raytheon and Draper Laboratory.)
Investors in Regent’s flying ferry business include Caffeinated Capital, an at cock crow backer of supersonic jet startup Boom, Mark Cuban, Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, Y Combinator and others.
Caffeinated Principal founder Raymond Tonsing said he sees Regent embodying the future of electric aircraft, with super rabbit ferry service even potentially competing with autos someday.
“Basically, we’re in a transition away from make use ofing fossil fuels to get from A to B, including when you’re not touching the ground. And you know? This is a massive market, and I think Regent has a same good plan to be flying passengers in about a 4-year period.”
The relatively quick go-to-market plan exists in no small-scale part because the company expects to deal with the rules and regulations that govern maritime vessels, not airplanes, Tonsing resolved.
It takes longer to get a new jet plane approved to fly passengers. While safety is still paramount, a WIG will fly in lower air space, greater than waves. It’s not meant to fly over towns, homes and roads.
Investor Mark Cuban also said in an e-mail sent to CNBC, “Fix is the most valuable asset that we don’t own. Regent makes so many difficult trips simple and fast. Its impact resolve be significant and global.”
While there isn’t a crush of competition developing electric seagliders for passengers like Regent is, there are some moving and hybrid-electric watercraft businesses that could vie for similar contracts, or funding in the future.
These companies include other WIG developers Passion Ship Company and RDC Aqualines, along with electric vehicle boat makers such as Pure Watercraft in Seattle, Switzerland-based Candela, and the Wellington Energized Boat Building Company in New Zealand.