Tech start-up Valo has revealed more details of its revolutionary new personal watercraft, the Valo Hyperfoil. This unique new product has already seen immense demand from consumers, with the limited production run of Founder’s Edition vehicles to be built in 2024 already being oversubscribed by 300%. The general production run is scheduled for 2025 with pre-orders currently open.
The Valo Hyperfoil is a two-person, high-performance, all-electric thrill ride that marks the evolution of the jet ski. Having moved from concept to first prototype in a matter of months, the rapid pace of development matches the performance and handling that it offers riders. The craft features a twin-foil setup with a 45kW drive motor and proprietary Skyride flight stabilisation system.
Ed Kearney, founder and CEO of Valo, commented, “I was about 12 or 13 years old, and my dad – who was an inventor kind of guy – showed me this video of some MIT students who had built a pedal-powered hydrofoil boat that broke the world record for a human-powered boat because it was so efficient.”
“I remember asking myself, why aren’t all boats like this? Here is a technology that can completely revolutionise how we transport things on the water by making them ten times more efficient and incredibly comfortable at the same time.”
It is these cues from other industries, and drawing on the expertise of people like pioneering foiling naval architect Paul Bieker who serves as a consulting designer on Valo’s designs, that have led to the rapid development of the Valo Hyperfoil.
At the core of the Valo Hyperfoil’s performance is the clever foil package and shaft-driven propulsion system, which can propel the craft at a max speed of 35 knots while offering over two hours of endurance, good for more than 60 miles on a single charge. When combined with the proprietary Skyride active stabilisation software, the Valo Hyperfoil represents a double step forward in marine mobility.
Skyride is developed fully in-house and has the role of keeping the vehicle stable as it slices through the water and waves. Hydrofoil vehicles are inherently unstable and hard to control since their centre of gravity is very high above the point of support. Added to that, the vehicle must operate very close to the surface of the water without going too high or too low.
Skyride solves this by combining data from various sensors around the Valo Hyperfoil and using aerospace derived algorithms to deliver hundreds of micro-adjustments per second to the various mechanical actuators that control the craft, keeping it stable and agile.
Reo Baird, CTO at Valo, said, “The Valo Hyperfoil is fully computer stabilised, and when you turn it enters into what’s called a coordinated banked turn. Think of it exactly like when a plane banks and turns, you don’t feel you are being pushed out of the turn and your coffee doesn’t spill because the forces run straight up and down through your vertical axis. This is how the Valo Hyperfoil turns using the Skyride software, and it’s truly exhilarating – and it allows for tight, highly precise turns.”
“The sport mode is designed to deliver much more exhilaration with sharper and harder handling, but there are also lots of safety elements at the limit to make sure you can’t roll the Valo Hyperfoil over or crash. The software does have a more controlled hand in how the Valo Hyperfoil behaves.”
“But we also want to make sure the driver feels like he is controlling the vehicle. It’s not like using cruise control on a car – it’s heavily weighted to the inputs on steering and throttle from the rider but while maintaining full stability to keep it safe. It’s a very delicate balance and it’s one I think we’ve struck perfectly.”
Central to the ethos of the Valo Hyperfoil is not only to make it as thrilling and as enjoyable as possible, but also to focus on reliability, robustness, and practicality. Construction will draw on high-quality parts, from carbon fibre, titanium, and stainless steel for the body construction, and known suppliers have been selected for the components. The battery system and electric motor are being sourced from experienced manufacturers in the US and UK respectively.
What’s more, the nod to sustainable boating with zero emissions, noise, and wake means Valo Hyoerfoil riders will be able to explore places that other personal watercraft can’t access – and be able to do so without disturbing other people in the same area. This, perhaps, is as much the leap forward in personal water mobility as the design and performance of the Valo Hyperfoil itself.
As Valo Hyperfoil moves toward production, with delivery of the first Founder’s Edition models scheduled for 2024, the company is celebrating the pre-launch success of their creation – they have taken more than US$3.3 million (c. €3,069,000) in advance orders already. They are also well into the development of a new product range for boat builders so they can easily enter the electric foiling era.
Baird continued, “It’s clean, with zero emissions, zero noise, and zero wake; it’s fun, because you can enjoy exhilarating hyperformance in a wide range of sea conditions; it’s safe and comfortable because the Skyride software takes care of everything; and it’s practical, because you can do everything and go anywhere a conventional jet ski can go, and more besides.”