Kite Can Pull A Whole Ship Across the Ocean

Remember this amazing kite that could pull a ship across the ocean? It’s now a whole lot bigger!

You can find our original story from a couple of years back below for more context. Here, we’ll talk about what the AirSeas kite is promising now, two years after first hitting the news.

The French company Airseas is working on Seawing, a 1,000 square meter kite capable of pulling a cargo ship across the ocean and promising to cut greenhouse emissions by more than 20%.

Remember how ships used to have sails?

The Airseas Seawing concept is going back to that concept and working on a kite that will be boost a cargo vessel’s capabilities automatically.

The Airseas Seawing is an equipment that can be retroffited on a boat’s deck and operated by a few simple buttons.

When weather conditions are favorable, the crew can simply deploy the kite, which will fly at 300 meters (almost 1000 feet) over the ship, helping the engines to propel the ship further.


For those asking how is the Airseas Seawing an innovation, considering we had ships with sails for thousands of years, do consider how maritime navigation has changed in that time.

One Gizmodo commenter ran the numbers and his explanation really puts into perspective why Seawing is such a powerful tool (even beyond the promised and essential greenhouse gas emissions reduction):

“To answer why this is innovative: Back when we moved cargo using ships with sails, a Galleon would look something like this:

-Length: ~100-150 ft

-Capacity: ~500 Tons

-Speed: ~8 knots

-Crew: 50 to over 400 people

A modern Cargo Ship is roughly this:

-Length: 1300 ft

-Capacity: 100,000 tons

-Speed: ~24 knots

-Crew: 20-30 people

These sails would be deployed way higher up in the air with higher wind speeds than old sailing ships could reach and be almost entirely automated, so no increase in crew. 

While it can’t eliminate the need for engines entirely, if it can actually save 20% on emissions this has potential to save 24 billion dollars in fuel per year, cut back on tons of emissions, and isn’t restricted to using boats that are 1/13th the size, 1/200th the capacity, 1/3 the speed, and needs ~10x as large of a crew,” wrote Kinja user Badprenup11.

“For more than a year, a 250-square-meter version of the Seawing has been tested on a cargo ship chartered by Airbus (which owns a minority stake in Airseas), sailing across the Atlantic.

Bernatets says the Airseas team has deployed, launched and flown the kite, and this May, the company announced that the kite had successfully towed the ship. In December, it will begin testing its “dynamic” figure-of-eight flights.

The company has received €2.5 million ($2.7 million) in funding from the EU, and says it already has orders from Airbus and Japanese shipping company “K” Line. It hopes to have the technology fully operational by the end of 2025,” reports CNN.

Original story from December 28, 2021:

In a scene straight out of Rippley’s Believe it or Not, a kite appears to be dragging a cargo ship across the ocean.

Of course, we’re not talking about a dollar store kite but an incredibly big, 500 square meters one.

Created by Airseas, this device will be attached to a 150 meters boat in January. The idea behind the contraption is to use less boat fuel which is harmful to the environment by having this kind of airborne help.

The ship that will test the kite’s strength and endurance is tasked with carrying airplane parts between France and the U.S.

The experiment will take around six months before launching the ship on its real life route.

To make it work, the kite will be mounted to the ship’s deck, where it can pop out just by touching a button. The best thing about the invention is that the kite model can be adjusted for any ship type and size.

Watch Live: The IBM Mayflower, The First Fully Autonomous Ship, Crossing the Ocean

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