Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Former SpaceX engineers are building a commercial electric speedboat

A group of former SpaceX rocket engineers has joined the race to build the commercial electric speedboat. Their revolutionary company, Arc Boats, based in California, has secured a seed funding of $4.25 million to start work on a 24-foot watersports boat that will cost about $300,000.

The startup, founded earlier this year, has ambitious plans to sell its first model, “Arc One,” by the end of the year.

The Arc One was designed and built for a seamlessly connected boating experience with over-the-air updates. The electric boat has far fewer moving parts, which means they should reduce the maintenance costs, one of the biggest headaches of owning a boat.

Arc’s first boat looks simple but is something amazing – at least on paper. The Arc Boats already has one prototype ready. The boat will have a 200kWh, 800-volt battery – roughly double the capacity and voltage of Tesla’s current top-tier package. Its 475 HP electric motor will deliver a top speed of around 40 mph (64 km/h), and the battery will allow an average usage time between three to five hours.

The 24-foot-long (7.3 m) boat combines marine-grade aluminum and aerospace manufacturing techniques, which enables a lightweight, low-cost yet strong structure. The boat can seat up to 10 people. Moreover, the boat will throw a wake behind it, meaning it will be fun to use for wake sports like waterskiing.

In addition to the hull, the startup is designing its own enclosures for the battery pack, as well as the cooling system. It is also developing software, which is planned to be tweaked and improved via over-the-air updates. Electric boats are not only significantly easier to maintain and much cheaper to operate but are also quieter, quicker, and – most of all – cleaner, with no fumes or pollutants.

While the first models will be very expensive, the cost was mostly in developing the technology, and cheaper versions would be available in the future, Mitch Lee, Arc’s chief executive, told The Guardian. He said the technology could be applied to larger craft, and even ferries could run on electricity in the future.

Kevin Wollscheid, Arc’s lead manufacturing engineer, previously worked at SpaceX for six years, according to his LinkedIn profile. Audrey Gaither, a mechanical engineer at Arc, and Robert Binkowski, Arc’s vehicle engineer, both worked at SpaceX as engineers before moving to the electric boat startup.