Swedish startup takes commuting by boat to new heights — literally

Is it a boat or is it a plane? Put your glasses on! This is clearly an electrically-powered hydrofoil passenger ferry. 

The brainchild of Swedish startup Candela, the P-12 Shuttle is set to become the fastest and longest-range electric passenger vessel in the world when it launches this summer. 

Founded in 2014, Candela has spent years perfecting its design on recreational boats, and now, fuelled by a $20m cash injection, is looking to scale up production and bring hydrofoil passenger boats into the mainstream. 

The startup is currently building the first two vessels at its new factory in Stockholm, and is in discussions with 180 potential operators around the world, it told TNW in a written statement. 

Hydrofoils function similarly to aeroplane wings. As the water flows over the surface of the foil it creates an upwards force, lifting the boat out of the water. This doesn’t just look cool, it reduces drag and allows the boat to travel faster. It also makes the craft more energy efficient.

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However, electric hydrofoil boats are inherently unstable. To overcome this problem, Candela spent five years developing computer-controlled hydrofoils that adjust 100 times-a-second using data from sensors that gauge wave height and wind speed. This balances the boat and reduces seasickness — the unsavoury side of many seafaring journeys.   

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