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Unreasonable at sea: Fellows Friday with Cesar Harada, who circumnavigated the globe with Protei
Posted by: Karen Eng
July 5, 2013 at 10:56 pm EDT

In January of 2013, TED Fellow Cesar Harada, inventor of an open-supply sailing robot, set sail on a four-month, 14-country round-the-globe journey with Unreasonable at Sea, a international innovation accelerator on board a boat. Right here, he tells us about how this extraordinary voyage helped crystallize his vision for how his open source sailing robot Protei will contribute to cleaning up the world’s ocean and freshwater environments.

What is Unreasonable at Sea, and how did you come to join this expedition?

The Unreasonable at Sea is an accelerator for global innovation in social entrepreneurship. It’s a system for ten entrepreneurs hosted on a floating university that sails around the world for four months whilst becoming mentored by a group of 20 of the world’s most potent entrepreneurs. On the ship we created our technique and organization models — in port we met with possible investors, governments, academics, nonprofits and the local startup scene.

The plan was started by Daniel Epstein, co-founder of the Unreasonable Institute, and George Kembel co-founder of the Stanford Numerous of my close friends advised that I apply to this system. At first sight, it was very appealing, but when I found that they would take six% equities from our firm Protei, Inc., I became hesitant. Fairly close to the deadline, the TED Fellows plan organisers encouraged me to apply, so I lastly did and decided to go with Gabriella Levine, Protei, Inc.’s COO, on this life-altering adventure. The system went beyond my expectations, changed me as a individual and helped us define our company future.

What was the mission of the journey, and how did it dovetail with what you are carrying out with Protei?

About 1,000 firms applied to this program shy of one hundred different countries of origin, and only 11 ended up getting selected. The main criterion is that you have to be a for-profit startup supplying a technology that has the prospective to impact positively the lives of millions of folks. The core belief of the system is “entrepreneurship can change the world” — quoting George Bernard Shaw: “The reasonable man (/lady) adapts himself to the world the unreasonable a single persists in attempting to adapt the globe to himself. Consequently all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Even though the program is taking location on the seven seas, Protei was the only company which was actively connected to the ocean. Our business designs and manufactures open hardware — shape-shifting sailing robots to discover and clean the ocean. Consider maritime drone to transport environmental sensors and clean-up payload. The variety of applications for a fleet would be to skim oil spills, collect plastic trash, measure radioactivity about Fukushima, patrol natural reserves and fish populations, mapping coral reefs, supplying data connections amongst underwater robots and satellites. We have decided not to help weaponized applications.

Inform us about a handful of of your most crucial stops and what you learned in each. How will these inform your future operate with Protei?

In Hawaii, we learned how Protei could help aid plastic pollution analysis. We met with Dr. Henk Carson, Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins who are amongst the pioneers for plastic pollution research. We journeyed to Kamilo Beach and sampled plastic from the multicoloured beach created of pretty considerably only plastic. Pessimists estimate hundreds of millions of tons of plastic trash are at the moment breaking down into the ocean and slowly coming up the food chain back to our plates the other estimate only tens of tons: the scientific neighborhood fails at agreeing on the actual amount of plastic pollution in the ocean and its destructive impact on the life in the ocean due to the lack of information, frequency and resolution. Protei could carry optical sensor comparable to plankton counter and measure plastic debris in the ocean.

In Ghana, oil pollution is threatening standard fisheries. In 2007 large oil reserves had been found, and intensive exploitation began in 2010 near Takoradi shore, because renamed “oil city,” exactly where western and Chinese oil firms have rushed. Traditional fisheries are suffering pollution, and the oil spill response capacity appears quite inadequate, following the undesirable instance of the Nigerian oil market. We met representatives from the ministries of power, atmosphere and fisheries and universities, and also went fishing with regional fishermen. Protei is a modular sailing robot, so we could carry fish counters as effectively as oil detection equipment to evaluate the effect of oil pollution on fish populations.

In Japan, we investigated radioactive water leaking into the Pacific Ocean. With the Safecast volunteer network we constructed an underwater Geiger counter and measured radioactivity on the seabed in the exclusion region close to Fukushima. Not too long ago 120 tons of contaminated water utilized to cool down the melting nuclear energy plant have leaked, and nobody knows the lengthy term consequences of such pollution in the ocean. About 300,000 Japanese are nevertheless refugees in their own nation, unable to return to where they utilised to live in places that had been either devastated by the earthquake and tsunami, or that are at the moment contaminated. We plan to return to Fukushima in September and deploy underwater Geiger counter-equipped Protei about the Fukushima energy plant.

In the circumstances above, Protei can be a part of the remedy. Protei will also be useful for general oceanography and water-top quality assessment, particularly in Vietnam and India, where we witnessed terrible river and lake pollution. In Morocco, we organized a hackathon that was so effective, some of the participants have now set their own permanent Hackerspace in Casablanca.

What did you achieve?

As a firm, Protei progressed on the neighborhood level, in that we now comprehend a lot better what our customers and developers from around the planet want, and how much they are willing to commit to address which ocean concerns. In terms of technology, we did testing in the field on certain applications, which led us to make numerous crucial style choices, define our initial function set and a strategy to create the technology in the future. And we also developed our company technique: we are hunting for corporate partners and sponsors interested in ocean investigation and protection.

In the brief term, we want to provide higher-top quality oceanographic instrument transport at the cost of toys. We aim to manufacture 1,000 Protei (small, 1 meter-extended units) by the end of the year with a straightforward feature set based on an Arduino microcontroller that can be upgraded with a Raspberry Pi or fitted with an Android-powered telephone to control a fleet of Protei anywhere in the 3G variety with high environmental data feed. We’re currently in the process of building a new neighborhood and retail internet site for the date of public release.

It sounds like this journey crystallized many things for you, both in terms of what Protei can do and exactly where it demands to go, as well as personally. You decided in the course of the journey to move to Hong Kong. Why?

As a enterprise we are trying to envision how capitalism can be used for the environment first. We believe that if a technologies is great for the atmosphere, it ought to be created offered for everyone to use, modify and distribute. This is why we are installing ourselves in Hong Kong and manufacturing in Shenzhen, exactly where we are most probably to be copied. The difficulties in the ocean are as well immense for us alone. The Hong Kong-Shenzhen combination is remarkable for the speed of prototyping and testing, with instant access to components and affordable manufacturing. The future of copying will benefit the atmosphere.

On the private level, I found a residence at sea. That is exactly where I want to live. And becoming exposed to so many forms of aquatic pollution and experiencing how it impacts people’s lives has confirmed the relevance of our operate, stimulates our creativity and increases my sense of urgency. I’m excited to transition from prototype to product, and build a community to explore and shield the ocean.

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Tags for this story:
Cesar Haradaenvironmentfreshwaterglobaloceansopen supply sailing robotplasticpollutionProteiUnreasonable at Sea

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(Post from China rapid prototyping manufacturer blog)


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