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Oil spilled moves downwind : we are sailing upwind to capture it. Protei is an ocean cleaning and research open hardware drone.
331 backers pledged $33,795 to help bring this project to life.

Quiet launch of Protei as a commercial prototype

Posted by Cesar Harada (Creator)

Dear Backers, 

Last time we sent you an update, it was to share with you some amazing adventures we had sailing around the world to meet the Protei community and immerse ourselves in several ocean issues (plastic pollution in Hawaii, Radioactivity in Fukushima Japan, pollution in China and India, Oil pollution in Ghana etc). We also announced that we are moving to Hong Kong. And we did. We have been in Hong Kong for 8 months now, and a few weeks ago we have finished building with our own hands our new office, and a new workshop for Protei.

Protei Workshop in Hong Kong
Protei Workshop in Hong Kong
Protei Office in Hong Kong
Protei Office in Hong Kong

 It's been an incredible ride. But where are the sailing robots? Well, since we have arrived we have built and tested more than 10 new Protei prototypes :

The prototypes keep piling up !
The prototypes keep piling up !
More and more gearboxes!
More and more gearboxes!

 And the the great news is that (drumrolls) 2 days ago, we have launched our commercial prototype on our brand new online store

Protei 011, first commercial prototype available online
Protei 011, first commercial prototype available online

It is also possible to buy Protei 011 as a kit to assemble :

Protei 011 as a kit
Protei 011 as a kit

To our backers that have backed to the level of receiving a fully functional sailing robot : once we have enough treasury from the orders we will produce the first batch of Protei and ship them to you! We are working on making Protei 011 more rugged and more affordable. 

To our backers that are expecting the documentation about this robot : we are also working on this now the robot is out :)

We are feeling so excited to deliver ALL your orders finally. Not a day has passed without thinking of you guys, and your wonderful support. 

We've recently tested Protei as a modular robot (with multiple masts and payload modules) and we have promising results. 

Protei with extra modules
Protei with extra modules

Now we are dreaming to 

  • improve the mechanical reliability of our sailing robots
  • develop the capacity to control a fleet as a swarm using arduino / android-powered mobile phone
  • develop a truly modular sailing robot to carry payload for data-collection or ocean cleanup (following illustration)
Protei "aquatic wind train"
Protei "aquatic wind train"

We love Hong Kong and we are going to be based here for a good while. 
Thank you again for backing us! We'll get back to you shortly :)

Fair winds.

Protei sailing around the world for 4 months

Posted by Cesar Harada (Creator)

You have not heard from us for a long time, in large part because Cesar Harada and Gabriella Levine  have been at sea for the last 4 months. We have just circumnavigated the whole world, leaving from San Diego for Ensenada Mexico, Hilo Hawaii, Fukushima Japan, Hong Kong China, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, Singapore, Rangoon Burma, Cochin India, Port Louis Mauritius, Cape Town South Africa, Accra Ghana, Casablanca Morocco and finally Barcelona Spain. If you want to read the full report, you can go here!

Saying that we have learned a lot is a weak word. But why were we even there? 

We had the extreme honor to be one of the 10 companies chose out of about 1000 companies from shy of a 100 different countries. We were lucky to enjoy the guidance of about 20 mentors, all more accomplished than one another. 

In every single port we stopped people that could benefit from Protei. From the scientists in Mexico studying red tides, to those in Hawaii combatting plastic pollution, the Japanese network of radioactivity sensing activists around Fukushima, to the chinese, vietnamese and indian residents, environmental activists and scientists, South African sailors and roboticists, the Ghanian fishermen suffering oil pollution, the fast growing maker movement and engineers in Morocco. I selected videos of memorable legs of the voyage, followed by the contextual blog post link I wrote below :

Sampling Plastic from Kamilo Beach, Hilo, Hawaii, USA.

It is estimated that there are millions of tons of plastic debris in the world ocean. We need to understand this better and clean it up!

Measuring radioactivity in Fukushima, Japan.

We explored Fukushima and it's surrounding with underwater geiger counter. There are still about 300'000 refugees in Japan that have not been able to go back to their homes. 

Exploring how the oil industry is harming the fishermen livelihood near Accra, Ghana.

In 2007 large oil reserves were discovered in Ghana, in 2010 oil exploitation startet boosting economic growth but damaging the people livelihood, in particular fishermen. 

Protei Hackathon in Casablanca, Morocco.

In Morocco we led this full day long hackathon with local engineering students and passionated about Innovation. At the end of the day, 4 machines were rapid-prototyped.

Next steps for Protei

During the journey, we have developed a strategy to bring Protei to our community, to you, to the market. We have tested in the water and refined Protei technology. We have a better grasp of our culture, our ethics, who we want to work with, and just plain business skills. We have shipped the hoodies to some of our backers and we aim to manufacture and distribute a 1000 Protei's before the end of the year. With our remaining budget - that is very tight - we have decided to move to Hong Kong / Shenzhen area to manufacture Protei! We are currently looking for corporate partners, philanthropy, corporate sponsorship.

4 very intense months at sea, learning so much, meeting so many people from around the world, and feeling... at home at sea! Protei is making tremendous progress and we want to thank you again for backing us! 

End of summer 2012 progress report

Posted by Cesar Harada (Creator)

We're coming back to you with a bag of big news about Protei and the progress of the Protei team. 

Protei at Techshop San Francisco, Summer 2012. Mad scientist look ∑8D !

Most of this summer 2012, Gabriella Levine and myself -Cesar Harada- have been working hard on optimising Protei_010 for manufacturing from TechShop San Francisco, thanks to the support of and Etienne Gernez. We have a good design and  a manufacturing process that provides quality consistency, that's affordable and easily scalable. We need more testing, and we don't have yet the material that we are fully satisfied with, but it will come. The next generation of prototype is to be ready for manufacturing, preparing to make the first public batch of beta Protei in the next few months! Of course you would be the first to receive it! Why we are not showing you (or anyone) the most recent designs? You may have heard about the controversy around the new Makerbot Replicator 2 not being Open Source ; because of the threat of a cheaper chinese copycat - well - we want to avoid that, so we are preparing our machine and we'll release everything (design, CAD, specs, code...) open source "at the right time" : when we release the product. We have quite some overhead cost to set up manufacturing so we cannot afford the risk of someone manufacturing before we do :)

Protei wins Savannah Ocean Exchange.

Last week, Protei won the prestigious "Gulfstream Navigator Award" from Worldwide Sponsors Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. and Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) - Gabriella Levine represented Protei at the Savannah Ocean Exchange in Georgia thanks to Shah Selbe. That means $100,000. And this explains why the paragraph above is so positive and why we are so compelled to bring Protei to production, to your home, to the ocean! 

Finally setting up as a non-profit (Open-H2O) + Company (Protei)

With the prize, we are finally able to afford to register ourselves as a non-profit (Open-H2O - former Open_Sailing) and as a corporation (Protei Inc). In a few days, Oct 1, 2 and 3, most of the core team members are meeting in Oslo Norway to define how we are going to bring Protei to you. 

The diagram above explains the relationship between the non-profit and the profit entity.

Unreasonable at Sea

And last huge news, Protei is getting ready to do a world tour !!!

From January to April 2013, Gabriella Levine and myself will embark on a great adventure "Unreasonable at sea" around the world. It is a 4 months elite business incubator at sea where we will perfect an innovative strategy for Protei and Open-H2O with world-class mentors while making environmental measurements of plastic, radioactivity and other environmental pollutions around the Pacific, China Sea, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, South Atlantic, North Atlantic and Mediterranean. We will try to blog abundantly during that time and are hoping to set up demos in every single port we dock. What could be more exciting?

We have many Protei events, exhibitions and talks around the world for Protei nowadays : PICNIC Festival in Amsterdam (NL), Las Vegas (US) last week with Julia Cerrud ; Monterrey yesterday at the BLUE film Festival with Ru Mahoney ; Open Hardware Summit in New York we had a poster with Roberto Melendez, Logan P Williams, Toni Nottebohm ; currently at the Amsterdam Museum of Science NEMO with Transnatural Festival thanks to Sebastian Muellauer and Kasia Molga, Metamorph Festival in Trondheim Norway this week end with Etienne Gernez ; TEDxParis and ENSCI next week and much more coming... Please check our website front page.

So, in a nutshell, this summer :

  • we made great progress on the design, getting ready for manufacturing, 
  • we won a big award that will help us manufacture,
  • we're getting more administratively organised
  • we're going around the world with Protei, study the ocean and  test our product in different environments. 

We're moving fast, never as fast as we wish, but we are definitely making good progress. We'll keep you posted, and thanks again for your support !

20120524 Ars Electronica, DEAF and Stanford Survey

Posted by Cesar Harada (Creator)

Dear Backers, 
I hope this update finds you healthy and happy. Summer is coming, and a lot is happening for Protei.


Ars Electronica

Protei just won the ARS Electronica "Hybrid Art" Honorary Mention! This is a great honour and we will have the pleasure of taking part to Ars Electronica 2012 in Linz Austria (Aug 30th - Sept 3rd).


DEAF Festival

Protei in currently being exhibited at the DEAF Festival (Dutch Electronic Art Festival) in Rotterdam. Protei_006 -that was made possible thanks to your support- is sitting next to the works of Philip Beesley and Olafur Elliasson, Jae Rhim Lee, Tuur Van Balen, Marnix de Nijs and more (!) until June 3rd. Sebastian (from Berlin) and Cesar (based in London) were happy to gather again with Protei Dutch members Alvaro Takiuti (Brasil) and Piem Wirtz (NL) : team smile

Protei is also working with a group of students from T/u Eindhoven who are building their own Protei! They did a presentation of their work at DEAF discussion tables and showed us their version of sailing robots : 

And the best news is that Protei will continue working with T/u Eindhoven for next year so you will see more Protei coming from the Netherlands - Exciting!


Stanford GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Marketing) 

Etienne Gernez and Shah Selbe of Open H2O are working with a brilliant group of students of Stanford GEM  (Global Entrepreneurial Marketing) students : they have prepared a little survey for you :) We want to know what you expect from the future website - it is your website! What functions you want to see there, how it should look and feel etc? If you leave us your email, there will be one Protei Hoodie to win!

>> Please take part in our 5 minutes survey here :

For those who identify as übergeeks, we might send you another specific survey about file formats as we are trying to establish our own flavour of Open Hardware documentation. Thanks to your input the new website is coming! We are looking for a Drupal developer ~ by the way :)


What's next? Summer 2012.

This summer is going to be extremely active. We are thinking of you everyday in particular those to whom we have not yet sent the rewards. 

  • July 2nd -> Sept 13 : Cesar Harada and Gabriella Levine will be working in San Francisco Tech Shop and/or Noisebridge to transform Protei from the prototype stage to a high standard product stage. 
  • Sept 13 -> Dec : Once we have one perfectly working prototype, we'll look for small quantity manufacturing. Backers will be the first to receive the machines we build then.

Our local groups and members are also taking many initiatives and participating events:

  • Berlin : Sebastian Muellauer has been working on setting up a workplace for Protei in Berlin, Germany. The workplace is called Superkubus :)
  • Oslo : Etienne Gernerz is half way through building the "Sunshine Factory" which is going to be a place for prototyping and testing Protei in Oslo Norway, by the water - charming place. 
  • Rotterdam : Piem Wirtz in Rotterdam is active establishing partnerships with local academics and industries, with one potential focus on plastic collection with Protei.
  • Brasil : Protei will also participate several events in Brasil with Kasia Molga (PL, UK) : one confirmed is The Federal University of Campina Grande (UFCG) promotes from june 13 to 16, 2012, the First International Conference on Collaborative Environmental Management – CIGAC, located and looking towards the Semiarid Northeast Brazil within the theme: “Science and Social Innovation.”
  • Turkey : We are still waiting for confirmation, but it is most likely that Protei will be presented at the ITHET conference in Istanbul :

There is so much happening for Protei :) Thanks to your help. Wishing you a superb end of week! 

Warm grateful regards, 
Cesar HARADA, for Protei and Open-H2O

20120322 : Protei_008 and getting closer to a Protei 1m for backers

Posted by Cesar Harada (Creator)

Dear Backers, 
Long time without updates, my apologies. We've been working hard developing Protei legal infrastructure in the UK and in the USA, and most importantly getting closer to "Protei 1 Meter Remote Control" as "a product" for our dear backers :) 

I am glad to present to you today Protei_008b, last born and tested a few weeks ago in Long Beach California. Video on youtube + vimeo + Flickr + orginal file 

We had a soft wind in Long Beach and Protei_008b "Bubble" was sailing elegantly. Thanks to London.hackspace and San Francisco Noisebridge where Protei_008 was made, Hunter Daniel for filming, Aurelie Vincent for helping the production.
We want to ship you a Protei that works super well, the documentation of a high performing shape-shifting sailing robot, but we still have quite a few things to fix : 

  • The hull mechanical "springiness" needs to be enhanced. The hull has a tendency to "lock" in extreme bended position. The straight "neutral" position needs to be easier to calibrate dynamically and remotely (as we sail). 
  • The electronics are too vulnerable to water infiltration through the cables housing : a compartment is being developed as a separate mechanical module.  
  • We need to find more powerful motors and optimise wire routing.
  • Manufacturing technique for the hull, control box, sail for serie production.
  • Greener materials : we still use some PVC tubes, polyester resin, and some synthetic foams that are cheap and easy to use but not very green :( 
  • The hull internal frames that support the boards, sensors, batteries and mechanical parts need to make it easier to upgrade from classical "Protei Remotely Controlled" to an --> "Protei Arduino + IOIO Board / iPhone Interface + Android phone / iPhone", so you can control your protei with your Android / iPhone, collect environmental data with this kind of kit and broadcast them over 3G or the like - Yay!
  • Camera mount, so it is easy to add a GoPro or the like on Protei without affecting it's stability and speed.

So we still have a lot to do, but we're making steady progress thanks to your support :) We dream to have a fully functional prototype for a Protei 1m RC this autumn - doing our best. We definitely keep you updated. Shipping to backers should happen a few months after, with a serie manufacturing techniques and greener materials. I apologise again for that we are taking a long time, it is a new technology and we have so much to figure out to deliver you quality. 

Protei and education

We're working with several students teams, supervised by Etienne Gernez our Academic Coordinator based in Norway. We have a great team in the Netherlands from TU Eindhoven that recently published on, more than 10'000 views! We also recently completed a market research project with Stanford Global Entrepreneurship Marketing with students Elika Mahdavi and Chun Kai Phang that are foreseeing a bright future for Protei in science and environmental education. 

Instructables ShopBot 2nd place

Protei_007 by Gabriella Levine just won the second place of the Instructables Shop Bot challenge! Bravo! 

Article in "BATEAU magasine"

We had a nice segment of a popular french sailing magazine "BATEAU" that gives a good overview of the current sailing robotic projects. pdf | p1 2 3 4.

Again we apologise for delay in sending rewards, we would not want to ship you a Protei that does not work, or the manual of a half-baked technology. We're moving forward thank to your support and we'll keep you updated of major progress made !