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We take a ride in San Francisco startup's electric "flying" boat

Navier's electric hydrofoil boat driving in San Francisco Bay. Photo: Katie Fehrenbacher/Axios

On a cold, windy day, the co-founder and CEO of Navier, Sampriti Bhattacharyya, took Katie for a ride in the startup's electric, "flying" hydrofoil boat in the San Francisco Bay.

Why it matters: With the battery and the hydrofoils, the boat can be 10 times more efficient than a gas-powered boat and if it takes off could unlock new avenues of maritime transportation.

Driving the news: This week San Francisco-based Navier announced a deal to shuttle Stripe employees between Larkspur in the North Bay and Oyster Point in South San Francisco.

  • The battery and the hydrofoils will offer a quiet, smooth ocean ride for up to 6 Stripe employees, helping them get out of the bumper-to-bumper commuter traffic on the road.
  • Bhattacharyya says Navier is interested in having more of its boats used around the waterways of the Bay Area as well as other cities like New York and Miami.
  • She added that the company is talking to Sausalito about piloting routes into that city's bay.
Navier CEO and co-founder Sampriti Bhattacharyya and head of operations Sam Seder riding in the N30, the company's electric hydrofoil boat on San Francisco Bay. Photo: Katie Fehrenbacher/Axios

Details: On Thursday afternoon, Navier head of operations Sam Seder drove Katie and Bhattacharyya across the bay,

  • It was pretty choppy. Then, after hitting 16 knots (about 18 mph), the boat lifted onto the hydrofoils and instantly delivered a smooth ride.
  • "It's a boat and it's a plane," Bhattacharyya noted, explaining how the foils act as wings to lift it up at the right velocity.
  • "Batteries and hydrofoils go hand in hand," she added. The vessel's efficiency is 10 times greater than gas-powered ones, she said.

Big picture: Bhattacharyya is highly focused on production this year, aiming to get Navier's boats out to more customers and into bays around the world.

  • The company says it has raised $12 million in seed funding from high-profile investors like Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Android co-founder Rich Miner, singer Will.i.am and ocean climate investor Propeller.

What's next: Navier will likely need to raise more funding to make more of its boats and meet customer demand.

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