An avionics system from allocortech will support the development of REGENT's seaglider, set to begin commercial operations in 2025. (Photo: REGENT)
Aerospace startup REGENT (Regional Electric Ground Effect Nautical Transport) has just announced a partnership for their seaglider technology demonstrator vehicle. Allocortech, an aerospace engineering company based in Virginia, develops safety-critical control systems and embedded systems applications and will provide avionics components for REGENT's seaglider.
REGENT's all-electric seagliders are expected to enter commercial service by 2025, and their technology demonstrator will be revealed in Q2 of this year. The vehicles are intended to offer harbor-to-harbor transportation services with zero emissions. The seaglider will be capable of transporting both passengers and cargo at a top speed of close to 180 mph (with existing battery technology), and its range will be up to 180 miles. In the future, with updates in battery technology, REGENT's seaglider could travel distances of up to 500 miles while still using existing dock infrastructure. Two of the seaglider's key advantages are the blown wing aerodynamic design and landing hydrodynamics. It also has the opportunity to leverage existing dock infrastructure for its operations.
Pictured is a rendering of the zero-emissions seaglider design from REGENT; the technology demonstrator will be revealed in Q2 of this year. (Photo: REGENT)
The announcement from REGENT explained the process of transitioning the seaglider from floating on the water to taking flight: "From the dock and while in the no-wake zone, the vehicle will float on its hull. Upon reaching 20 mph, it will rise up on its retractable hydrofoil. The vehicle leaves the harbor at speeds between 20–40 mph. Upon reaching open water, the vehicle smoothly transitions onto its wing, retracts the foil, and accelerates to a comfortable 180-mph cruise speed—all while staying within a wingspan of the water’s surface." The seagliders' hydrofoils improve comfort for passengers and make the vehicles more wave-tolerant.
With a focus on ensuring safety in flight, the seaglider uses a multiple-redundant navigation and control system. "Similar to a hovercraft, seagliders fly on a dynamic air cushion created by the pressurized air between the wings and the water. The aerodynamic advantage of this so-called 'ground effect' includes significant operational efficiencies, increased payload capability, and greater range," according to REGENT.
The all-electric seaglider will fly at a speed of 180 mph after taking off from a dock. (Photo: REGENT)
According to REGENT's CEO, Billy Thalheimer, "a primary objective of this program has been to define and stress-test our engineering processes, toolchains, and test procedures on a real, integrated vehicle to prepare ourselves for the full-scale, human-carrying prototype ahead." He added that allocortech's products, including sensors, flight computers, motor controllers, electrical power systems, and flight test safety equipment, helped REGENT to rapidly develop all of the hardware and software in the vehicle's avionics system.
Rather than using hobby-grade RC components in their technology demonstrator, REGENT will take advantage of the fault-tolerant avionics components, electrical systems, and software systems provided by allocortech. Brian Viele, CEO of allocortech, commented in the announcement from REGENT that their flexible hardware and software solutions are made specifically "to allow innovative companies like REGENT accelerated development timelines while maintaining an acceptable level of safety."
The seaglider uses sensors, flight computers, motor controllers, electrical power systems, and flight test safety equipment provided from allocortech. (Photo: REGENT)
When the seaglider enters commercial operations, it is expected to transport 12 passengers, although the next version of the vehicle will have the capacity for upwards of 50 passengers, according to REGENT. "We envision a future where seagliders and eVTOLs work in tandem to create an all-electric, multi-modal transportation system. Seagliders will provide regional coastal connectivity, eVTOLs will provide terminal urban connectivity, and all will share charging infrastructure at transportation hubs."