25 March 2022 |
Ep43: Regent: Futuristic Sea Travel Now!
By Joe Sweeny
- Float, Foil, Fly: 2:55
- The electric plane builders: 7:56
- The problem with fuel: 08:15
- A very personal problem: 9:22
- Wings, but underwater: 11:49
- WIG: 13:12
- Ditching the turbojet: 18:44
- Propulsive power to the propulsor: 22:45
- Selling sustainability: 25:15
- Raises and rounds: 36:38
Meet the Founder Behind a New Wave of Travel
“We are building something that we want to use. And, and I think that’s a key unlocking why Mike and I, and our whole team, is so passionate is that we’re solving this problem, that’s all near and dear to our hearts, solving regional mobility.” Billy Thalheimer, CEO of Regent.
Is it a boat? Is it a plane? The answer is…yes. Regent is on the cusp of launching one of the most exciting, progressive travel solutions on the planet and it’s a hybrid.
Forty percent of the world’s population live on the coast. But when you think about high-speed travel, it’s land-based vehicles, like trains, that spring to mind. The problem for coastal commuters who choose to journey by boat is speed. Why slog between Boston and New York on a ferry and bus journey that takes upwards of 8 hours, when you can hop on a train for around half that time?
But what if there was a third way that could cut that journey down to just over an hour? Step forward Seagliders.
Float, Foil, Fly
Cleaner and cheaper than traditional aircraft, 100% electric and able to travel up to speeds of 180mph, the Seaglider combines the maneuverability of a boat with the speed of a plane. Able to use existing ports, much of the infrastructure is already in place and Regent is keen to get up and running along the East Coast.
Having already raised $10 million from Caffeinated Capital, Billy and CTO Mike Klinker have just raised a further $18 million from Teal Capital and Jam Fund.
And here’s how it all works: Pass through a metal detector and strap in while the Seaglider floats on the water like a boat. Having cleared the dock and reached more than 20mph the vehicle rises up on its hydrofoils, negotiating any sea traffic before heading to the open water. Once clear it will fly, just over the surface of the water, at around 180mph though in future this speed could increase further still.
Closing in on its destination the reverse process is started with the Seaglider cruising into port and offloading its passengers at the other end.
“Unfortunately liquid fuel has a really high energy density. So you can fly very far with very
little weight of fuel, and battery technology is kind of slowly catching up.”
Run out of battery in a Tesla and you’re in trouble with no guarantee of a safe spot to pull off the road, or near any kind of charging station. Experience a problem with the Seaglider and its position just above the water means it can land safely at almost any spot along a coastal route.
And with an automated control system taking care of the vehicle’s flight capabilities, the captain’s main responsibilities center around speed and position..
Using battery tech that’s reliable and easily charged is what makes Regent an attractive proposition as a cargo carrier later down the road, but for now it’s passenger journeys the company is focussing on, launching the first commercial flights in 2025.
While getting flights scheduled and off the ground are the first milestones in Regent’s journey, looking ahead, where will the company be 10 or 20 years down the line?
“I want to see Seagliders everywhere. I want Seagliders to be a ubiquitous thing. I want them to be totally associated with these routes. You know, you fly to Hawaii, you take Seagliders between the islands.”