Interest in electric boats at this time is very high. Candela demonstrated this in late 2021 with the C-8, an electric boat with foils (priced from 290,000 €) that sold as many as 60 units in one month(read more here). Sweden’s, however, is not the only reality in the field. We interviewed Sampriti Bhattacharyya, founder and CEO of
to learn how American Navier is working on a new electric boat with foils.
Sampriti Bhattacharyya, CEO of Navier
Interview with Navier CEO Sampriti Bhattacharyya
When it comes to thinking outside the box, the answers often come from the younger generation. Such is the case with Sampriti Bhattacharyya, an aerospace engineering graduate with a doctorate from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in building underwater drones. With an A-list resume (in 2016 he was in the Forbes 30 Under 30), he now seeks to create the powerboat of tomorrow. Navier, a company whose founder and CEO she is, is developing in Silicon Valley a 100% electric, foil-equipped boat, the Navier 27(we told you about it here).
1 – You are developing an electric boat with foil: how related are these two elements?
Boats are becoming electric, thanks to advances in battery technology in the automotive industry that have enabled innovation in the marine industry. In terms of foiling technology, the America’s Cup and other similar sailing competitions have played a very important role. The hydrofoil concept is not new, but the technologies to enable reliable and cost-effective boats are new are relatively new.
Developing a robust control system for boats that can tolerate choppy conditions (such as 4-foot waves) is not easy. The specialized skills required are in some ways more similar to aircraft control systems.
There are many electric boats that are without foil. To achieve the necessary range, however, foils become essential. This is because the boat rises above the water and much of the hydrodynamic drag is eliminated.
2 – Summing up, less friction means less energy needed (except to enter foiling mode). What are the other positive points?
Electric foiling boats are very quiet and therefore very pleasant. But this also means much less impact on marine life. Loud noises from outboards are not the best for marine life. With hydrofoils, very little wake is generated, thus minimal impact on the coast, unlike traditional motor boats that generate large wakes.
For boaters, it is not only the smoothness of the ride, but boats with foils are also a lot of fun to drive. The feeling is very different from a traditional boat. In addition to the range you have navigation is more comfortable on waves of even 1.2 meters. You are not fighting the waves the same way you do in a traditional boat.
3 – Are there any existing projects that you are inspired by? Can we say that Navier is Silicon Valley’s answer to Sweden’s Candela?
I am an aerospace engineer and then did my Ph.D. at MIT building underwater drones. I spent a lot of time on the water, on boats, building technologies for marine robotics. Then I saw the great opportunity to start a next-generation maritime company with a focus on efficient vessel design and the use of cutting-edge software We saw the trends in land and air, but the maritime sector seemed to lag behind.
Water transportation once formed the backbone of our civilization. At the turn of the century, automobiles replaced slow steamboats and ferries. We asked the question: if we could build vessels that could compete in cost, speed, and convenience with land-based options, what would the world look like? We want to create a new idea of scalable and affordable water transportation for congested coastal cities like never before. Navier was born for this.
4 – What will be the strengths or solutions that set you apart in the market?
Just our software and its total integration will be the top. And all this leads to a superior user experience overall.
5 – How important will the experience of the America’s Cup and Paul Bieker be?
Paul Bieker is one of the best in the world when it comes to developing the most efficient foiling boats.
Paul Bieker is founder of Bieker Boats. He is an expert in foil boat design and carbon fiber structures with experience in performance engineering for some of the world’s fastest monohulls and multihulls. He has worked with Oracle Team USA as a design engineer since 2003 and was asked to be principal – design engineer of Oracle Team USA for the 35th America’s Cup in 2017.
6 – From a propulsion and battery perspective, how will the Navier 27 work?
We are 100% electric with a propulsion system given by two 50-kw motors.
9 – The electric boat makes it possible to eliminate on-site emissions, but the energy needed to recharge the batteries must be produced, and so far renewables cannot keep up. Will “zero-impact” propulsion take another step beyond “batteries and electric motors”?
Things do not change in the world according to one step, and we should not be dismayed by the way things are today. In the next decade there will be a very aggressive transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, mainly because we have to do it for the survival of this planet. The options are many and very promising-be it solar, wind, hydro, etc. I am very optimistic about that.