Venture Capital: Electric Flying Ferry Startup Regent Raises $9M
“Regent” stands for Regional Electric Ground Effect Naval Transport.
Boston-based startup Regent focuses on coastal, maritime transportation using electric sea gliders as ferries that are zero-emission and fly at ultra-low-altitudes at cruise speeds of 180 mph. The service would need no airport security and is highly cost-effective because it saves on fuel costs, maintenance and taxes. Regent raised $9 million in seed funding from Caffeinated Capital, Mark Cuban, Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, Y Combinator, and others. (CNBC)
Regent’s electric sea gliders
Regent describes its aircraft under development as a sea glider. It’s a wing-in-ground-effect craft (WIGs) that operates a few meters off the water’s surface and couples the high speed of an airplane with the low operating cost of a boat. Because it’s a WIG, it will be governed by rules and regulations that apply to maritime vessels, not airplanes. Hence, Regent will benefit from a quicker go-to-market plan.
Typically, when in operation, a Regent sea glider would move out of a harbor on a hydrofoil, take off from the water’s surface, and then fly at low altitude over the waves towards its destination. The aircraft would be suited for short-hop rides up to 500 miles between coastal cities.
Furthermore, the seacraft do not need specialized support infrastructure and can operate from existing harbors. Harbors would, in any case, need to install electric charging facilities for other electric vehicles such as cars, boats, and ground support vehicles.
Regent expects to complete the development of the electric sea gliders in five years.
However, the recent fundraise will be instrumental in building a quarter-scale prototype by the end of this year. The first flight of the prototype will be conducted in Boston.
When operational, Regent’s gliders would likely operate on routes such as Boston and New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, or shorter routes like New York City to the Hamptons or routes connecting the islands of Hawaii.
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