At a time when transportation infrastructure projects seem to be taking center stage in US public debate, a Boston-based start-up backed by some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent investors wants to turn the sea lanes along the country’s east and west coasts into high-speed transit corridors.
LA to San Diego in 50 minutes? What about New York City to Boston in two hours? And all this without road traffic or airport hassle. These are the sort of commutes that may become possible if REGENT’s seagliders become a reality.
Regent’s founders have aviation backgrounds — including degrees in aerospace engineering at MIT and a stint at Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences — but they turned to the seas for inspiration when they started looking for new, sustainable ways to transform inter-city travel.
Billy Thalheimer and Mike Klinker have raised $9.5 million from the likes of Y Combinator, Mark Cuban and Peter Thiel, among other investors, to reimagine the wing-in-ground effect (WIG) concept and turn it into a mainstream means of transportation with zero emissions.
Wing-in-ground effect vehicles are a kind of boat-aircraft hybrid.
They make use of an aerodynamic principle known as «ground effect» to skim the surface of the sea at very high speeds, hovering just a few meters above water. When in port, they simply let their hulls rest on water, like any other boat.