This article was discussed in our Next Byte podcast.
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Who Is Regent?
REGENT (Regional Electric Ground Effect Naval Transport) is a startup based out of Boston, MA that wants to establish a zero-emission coastal transportation service by 2025. Their solution? A zero-emission ground effect vehicle powered by an all-electric propulsion system.
Ground Effect Vehicles
An aircraft generates lift by directing airflow in a manner that results in a high pressure region at the bottom surface of the airfoil and a low pressure region at the upper surface. Ground effect vehicles (GEV) build on this phenomenon by leveraging the reactionary forces of a surface close to the bottom portion of the airfoil (e.g. a body of water) which increases lift.
But wait, there’s more. When a wing generates lift, it also generates circular patterns of air known as wingtip vortices. These vortices contribute to lift-induced drag, but when operating close to a surface (as GEVs do),the development of these vortices is prohibited. Therefore, GEVs benefit from both added lift and decreased drag, which results in higher efficiency.
REGENT plans on transporting commercial passengers by 2025 and here is what they’re promising:
180 mile range with 180 mph top speed
12 passenger capacity (future model will carry 50)
Travel 6 times faster than ferries while producing less noise
Safe as aircraft but with better wave/wind tolerance than seaplanes
The future looks even more promising. Their first vehicle is projected to operate under Coast Guard jurisdiction and the company is maintaining a close line of communication with the Coast Guard’s Office of Engineering Standards along with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Emerging Concepts and Innovation group to deploy seagliders at scale in the near future
The Bigger Picture
There’s also a bigger picture at hand that the team plans to be a part of: an all-electric, multi-modal transportation system. Envision a future where eVTOLs will provide overland connectivity, seagliders will provide regional coastal connectivity, and both will utilize the same charging infrastructure at shared transportation hubs.
What's To Come
REGENT is composed of a talented team with extensive experience in the aerospace industry, they’re backed by proven investors like Mark Cuban and the Thiel Foundation, and they’re planning to fly their first prototype in Q4 of 2021. This company has all the ingredients for a successful future and we look forward to seeing their GEV hit the market in 2025.