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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 ten:56 pm EDT
In January of 2013, TED Fellow Cesar Harada, inventor of an open-source 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 international innovation in social entrepreneurship. It’s a system for 10 entrepreneurs hosted on a floating university that sails around the globe for 4 months even though getting mentored by a group of 20 of the world’s most potent entrepreneurs. On the ship we developed our method and organization models — in port we met with potential investors, governments, academics, nonprofits and the nearby startup scene.
The system was started by Daniel Epstein, co-founder of the Unreasonable Institute, and George Kembel co-founder of the Stanford d.school. Many of my close friends recommended that I apply to this program. At initial sight, it was extremely desirable, but when I found that they would take six% equities from our organization Protei, Inc., I became hesitant. Relatively close to the deadline, the TED Fellows system organisers encouraged me to apply, so I finally did and decided to go with Gabriella Levine, Protei, Inc.’s COO, on this life-changing adventure. The plan went beyond my expectations, changed me as a person and helped us define our organization future.
What was the mission of the journey, and how did it dovetail with what you’re performing with Protei?
About 1,000 companies applied to this plan shy of 100 diverse countries of origin, and only 11 ended up becoming selected. The primary criterion is that you have to be a for-profit startup offering a technology that has the prospective to influence positively the lives of millions of folks. The core belief of the system is “entrepreneurship can modify the world” — quoting George Bernard Shaw: “The affordable man (/woman) adapts himself to the world the unreasonable 1 persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Consequently all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
Even though the program is taking place on the seven seas, Protei was the only company which was actively connected to the ocean. Our business styles and manufactures open hardware — shape-shifting sailing robots to explore and clean the ocean. Believe 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 all-natural reserves and fish populations, mapping coral reefs, providing information connections between underwater robots and satellites. We have decided not to assistance weaponized applications.
Tell us about a couple of of your most vital stops and what you discovered in every single. How will these inform your future work with Protei?
In Hawaii, we learned how Protei could assist help plastic pollution research. We met with Dr. Henk Carson, Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins who are among the pioneers for plastic pollution research. We journeyed to Kamilo Beach and sampled plastic from the multicoloured beach made of fairly considerably only plastic. Pessimists estimate hundreds of millions of tons of plastic trash are presently 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 community fails at agreeing on the actual quantity 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 similar to plankton counter and measure plastic debris in the ocean.
In Ghana, oil pollution is threatening traditional fisheries. In 2007 massive oil reserves have been found, and intensive exploitation began in 2010 near Takoradi shore, since renamed “oil city,” where western and Chinese oil firms have rushed. Conventional fisheries are suffering pollution, and the oil spill response capacity seems really inadequate, following the bad example of the Nigerian oil market. We met representatives from the ministries of energy, environment 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 built an underwater Geiger counter and measured radioactivity on the seabed in the exclusion area near Fukushima. Recently 120 tons of contaminated water utilized to cool down the melting nuclear energy plant have leaked, and no one knows the extended 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 used to live in locations that have been either devastated by the earthquake and tsunami, or that are at present contaminated. We strategy to return to Fukushima in September and deploy underwater Geiger counter-equipped Protei about the Fukushima power plant.
In the instances above, Protei can be a portion of the remedy. Protei will also be valuable for common oceanography and water-high quality assessment, particularly in Vietnam and India, exactly where we witnessed terrible river and lake pollution. In Morocco, we organized a hackathon that was so productive, some of the participants have now set their own permanent Hackerspace in Casablanca.
What did you accomplish?
As a business, Protei progressed on the community level, in that we now realize considerably greater what our customers and developers from about the planet want, and how considerably they are prepared to invest to address which ocean problems. In terms of technologies, 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 plan to create the technologies in the future. And we also developed our business method: we are hunting for corporate partners and sponsors interested in ocean investigation and protection.
In the quick term, we want to supply high-quality oceanographic instrument transport at the price tag of toys. We aim to manufacture 1,000 Protei (tiny, 1 meter-long units) by the end of the year with a straightforward function set based on an Arduino microcontroller that can be upgraded with a Raspberry Pi or fitted with an Android-powered phone to control a fleet of Protei anywhere in the 3G variety with higher environmental data feed. We’re currently in the method of constructing a new community and retail website for the date of public release.
It sounds like this journey crystallized numerous things for you, each in terms of what Protei can do and where it demands to go, as properly as personally. You decided in the course of the journey to move to Hong Kong. Why?
As a business we are trying to picture how capitalism can be utilized for the atmosphere first. We think that if a technologies is excellent for the environment, it should be created accessible for everyone to use, modify and distribute. This is why we are installing ourselves in Hong Kong and manufacturing in Shenzhen, 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 amazing for the speed of prototyping and testing, with quick access to parts and affordable manufacturing. The future of copying will advantage the atmosphere.
On the private level, I found a home at sea. That’s exactly where I want to live. And getting exposed to so numerous forms of aquatic pollution and experiencing how it impacts people’s lives has confirmed the relevance of our perform, stimulates our creativity and increases my sense of urgency. I’m excited to transition from prototype to product, and develop a community to discover and protect the ocean.
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Cesar Haradaenvironmentfreshwaterglobaloceansopen source sailing robotplasticpollutionProteiUnreasonable at Sea
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