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Sampling sea and riverbeds around Fukushima Nuclear Power plant

We have put together a valuable set of sediment samples from riverbeds, estuaries and seabed nearshore in the Tohoku region of Japan, mostly in the vicinity of the Fuksuhima Daiichi Nuclear power plant. Half of the samples have been taken before the Typhoon VongFong, the other half during the Typhoon VongFong (Oct 13th 2014 over Tohoku region).  The goal is to understand the motion of sediments from land to sea using radioactive tracers, in other words “make a map of seabed radioactivity around the Fukushima Power Plant“. Here a rough analog simulation – and here an excellent scientific paper explaining how radioactivity “travels” seasonally that we try to extend – connecting land / river to sea data. We do not have the results / measurements of Cesium of our samples yet, hopefully before the end of 2014.


Video by Philippe Couture

The instrument we use is a “Micro Rolling Trawler” that we developed that captures only a few millimeters of surface (recent) sediments. That allows us to have a “snapshot” of the seabed surface.

Sampling river and sea bed sediment with radioactive tracers from Fukushima Mapping Radioactivity in riverbeds and seabeds around Fukushima power plant Crippled Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant 20141009 Sediments Samples
Photos by Julie Nagai

All the data we collect is publicly available for free. We will study mostly Cesium. If you are interested in these samples to analyse other isotopes, we would be very happy to share with you free of charge as long as you share publicly the data / results. Please get in touch : contact@cesarharada.com

Many thanks to Julie Nagai, Philippe Couture, Jun Kamei, Shinya & Angela Saeki, Dr Olivier Evrard, Kenichi Kawamura, Prof Hiroshi Kainuma, Umilabo, Soness Stevens, Rohini Karen Deblaise, Dean Newcombe, Safecast Joe Moross, Prof Yoshida of Tohoku University, Christina Moorehead, Jay Klaphake, Kaori Hilton, Maria Ichizawa, Takuro Mizuta, Hiroshi Nomura, Katagiri Family, Zhiruo Gao, Yoshiko Toyama, Toby Marshall and all those who supported our efforts. You can see where we drove with Safecast bGeigieNano (Oct 7, Oct 8, Oct 13, Oct 14)  or as one big map.

More soon…

In Japan to map seabed radioactivity around Fukushima crippled power plant

Mapping Seabed Radioactivity together Participative, low cost, open source radioactivity mapping of Tohoku coast

 

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海床放射線調査へのご協力者募集について(Proposal

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Please download pdf here : http://protei.org/download/20140928TEDxKyoto/_Proposal.pdf

This is why we are in Japan. Please help us find a boat and map seabed radioactivity.

Please support us by voting for us here : mazdarebels.com/en-gb/content/four-inspiring-ted-fellows-one-mazda-grant/

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Text in English : 

The problem

The Fukushima nuclear power plant is leaking into the ocean, directly from the power plant, but also down the mountains via the rivers. We have great independent radiation maps on land by Safecast (JP), good sediment transports (rivers) maps by the CNRS (FR), and good simulation of ocean currents by NOAA (USA). A very important missing piece of the puzzle is a comprehensive map of seabed radioactivity. If we want the fisheries to re-open and swim safely in these waters, this information is crucial for everyone. 

Our idea

How to measure radioactivity on the seabed? Currently there are a few points being measured in strategic areas with Eckman bottom grab samplers. They are great machines but

  • mix surface sediment (more radioactive) and deeper sediment (less radioactive)
  • they let very thin particles sip out the jaws
  • they are quite expensive and bulky

We’re developing a rolling surface sediment sampler. A very low cost machine that you can operate at the end of a fishing rod from any boat that only captures a few millimetres of sediment surface (most recent and most radioactive). The bigger picture is to gather data and produce a map similar to Safecast on land, but for the seabed, by everyone for everyone.

How you can help

We are looking for a boat to test our idea.

Any boat. If you have a boat or know someone who can take us there, please let us know.We would love to sail along Japan east coast, for example from Iwaki to Sendai, in the legal waters of course.

The samples we collect would be time, depths and geo coded (with GPS) and made available to anyone who want to analyse and share publicly the results. We are working with SAFECAST and the French CNRS, extending their work in riverbeds into the ocean using their methods and instruments.

Dates : 2014/10/02 -10 and 2014/10/12 – 17
Money : we pay fuel, water, food so it is free for you.

Data : Public Domain

Please contact :

Cesar HARADA. French-Japanese Ocean roboticist, Former MIT Project leader, TED Senior Fellow. contact@cesarharada.com
Philippe COUTURE. French documentary Film maker, architect & permaculture researcher.

PhilCHKpermaculture@gmail.com

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Text in Japanese  :

協働型 海底放射線マッピング

東北沿岸における参加型、ローコスト、オープンソースの放射線マッピング

課題

福島原子力発電所では、発電所から海に直接、また山岳地域から河川を通じて漏えいが続いています。陸地部分にはSafecast(日本)、河川での放射能の移動にはCNRS(フランス)、優良な海流のシミュレーションはNOAA(米国)と、これまでにも独自に作られた秀逸な放射線地図があります。ここに欠けている非常に重要な情報が海底の放射能です。漁業再開やこれらの海域で安心して泳ぐためには、この情報はだれにとっても不可欠です。

ご提案

海底の放射能をどのように測定すればよいでしょうか。

現在、戦略的に重要な地域でいくつかのポイントがエックマン採泥器を用いた測定が行われています。この機器は優良ですが、以下の問題点があります:

- 表層部分(放射性が強い部分)と深い部分(放射性が弱い)が混ざる

- 細かい物質を取りこぼす

- 高価格、かさばり運搬に不適用

わたしたちは、転動式海底表面堆積物試料採取器(rolling surface sediment sampler)を開発しています。非常に安価な機械で、どんなボートからでも、釣竿の先に取り付けて操作でき、数ミリの海底の表面の堆積物(もっとも新しく、もっとも放射性が高い)部分を測定します。最終的な目的は、誰もが自分でデータを収集し、誰でも見ることのできる、陸地の Safecast に準ずる海底のマップ作成です。

ご協力のお願い

私たちの提案を試行するためにご協力いただける船舶を探しています。

どのような船舶でもかまいません。船舶を所有する方、または今回の試行のために船舶を貸してくださる方をご紹介いただける方が知り合いにいる方がいましたら、是非ご連絡をいただきたく存じます。

試案としては、いわきを出航し仙台に到着するなど、当然ですが、合法な海域内での活動となります。

収集された時間、深さ、GPSでのジオコード(地理的コード)をサンプルとして収集し、誰もが結果を分析したり公開共有可能なものとします。SAFECAST(訳注:村井純慶応大学主任客員研究員などがアドバイザーとなる2012年にアルスエレクトロイカグランプリで栄誉賞を受賞したNPO)、仏CNRS(フランス国立科学研究センター)と協働し、CNRSの河底データ収集実績での手法および機器を海床にも用います。

調査日時:2014年10月2日から10日、および  2014年10月12日から17日

費用:燃料、飲料水と食事の経費をお支払します

データ:公有財産(Public Domain)

ご連絡先:

Cesar HARADA (メール:contact@cesarharada.com) 海洋ロボティックを専門とする日系フランス人。MITプロジェクトリーダーの経歴を持つTEDシニアフェロー。

Philippe COUTURE (メール: PhilCHKpermaculture@gmail.com )フランス人ドキュメンタリー映画作家、建築家、パーマカルチャー研究者。

翻訳協力:ヒルトン香織 iroak70@gmail.com

Environmental Radioactivity, an audiovisual Introduction

"Green groups fear 'most dangerous' nuclear power plant on Hong Kong's doorstep" South China Morning Post

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1303433/green-groups-fear-most-dangerous-nuclear-power-plant-hong-kongs

Really?

I now teach kids at the Hong Kong Harbour School. It is the first time I have taken a long term commitment (2 years) to teach classes to the young, before I was only teaching at master level in Europe. It’s not a smaller challenge. I have to teach differently. I have to explain things from scratch with non-technical words. I have to be super articulate and clear. And more importantly it’s got to be directly relevant to them, meaningful and rewarding at every step.

They will ask questions that will keep me awake at night. They deserve answers, but more importantly, they need to develop the capacity to inquire and propose their own answers, have their own opinions and strategies to affect change to society.

Radioactivity in Hong, Safecast Map, Mac App
Map by Safecast showing radioactivity in Hong Kong with the brand new Mac (free) app. Government data here.

The topic of environmental radioactivity is timely :

For the first class, I have prepared a slideshow with many videos. I have watched many crazy and inadequate videos and these are the most informative ones. More about environmental and marine radioactivity coming soon.

Share or watch in full screen : http://goo.gl/cKiFAE

Help Protei get the Mazda Rebel Grant by voting – takes 10 secs

[Support] & [Submit] Protei for the MAZDA Rebel Grant

https://www.mazdarebels.com/en-gb/content/four-inspiring-ted-fellows-one-mazda-grant/

Please take 10 seconds to [SUPPORT] and [SUBMIT] Protei on Mazda Rebel Grant. And [Share] if you can.
The grant would be used to

Map radioactivity around Fukushima in the Pacific Ocean

Because we have many simulation but almost no MEASUREMENTS of radioactivity in the ocean off the Japanese. We plan to be at sea from Oct 1st to 10th. This will be the 3rd time we work in Fukushima, this time with better instruments and partners.

Build a 2 sailors Protei

A ground-breaking machine! We’ll test the limit of speed and agility of the shape shifting sailing boat in extreme conditions (wind, waves, currents). With your help we hope to have it sailing before spring 2015 in Hong Kong. If you are a top sailor and you want to be our crash dummy – get in touch !

Thanks a lot for your support – it means the world to us!

Want to learn about environmental radioactivity? Here a class slides I give to Hong Kong kids full of videos!
Want to learn about the shape-shifting sailing robot physics? Or see at TED talk about it?

20140826 Test of Protei 011.1 at sea

Original post : http://scoutbots.com/blogs/news/15204209-test-of-protei-011-1-at-sea

A few days ago, we had a great time testing Protei 011.1 at sea thanks to Alex Li, Helen Yau and David Biddlecombe. The boat was prepared by Guillaume Dupont, Jessica Louie, Cesar Harada, Bianca Cheng Costanzo and documented by Kwok Wah and Chris Butler.
The test was a success, no leak, very good manoeuvrability. Unfortunately there was no much wind.

Happy Wah

Kwok Wah testing the shape-shifting hull at the workshop. So far so good !

Protei 011.1 Making and Testing

Let the test begin !

Protei 011.1 Making and Testing

Sailing test is going without hurdles.

Protei 011.1 Making and Testing

Protei 011.1 with rotating mast bends very well.

Protei 011.1 Making and Testing

To give you a sense of size / scale.

Underwater, all the magic happens with the transparent “spine”.

Brocken mast, Protei 011.1 Making and Testing

We also had some damage. We bent a boom in the MTR (train) and broke one mast when Protei 011.1 went under our big boat. So we are working on making a stronger mast, bigger diameter and full aluminium rod (instead of hollow).

Protei 011.1 Making and Testing

Special thanks to Jessica Louie that worked hard on the last straight line to test.

Protei 011.1 Making and Testing

A big thank you to Alex Li for letting us get on board of his boat for testing in beautiful Sai Kung, Hong Kong.

20140728 Protei Scoutbots Progress Report

20140728 Protei Progress Report

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1x-phaqFwpESUKoG3wi37v5donxFPEJOm3Ilpw_1Ehwc/edit?usp=sharing

How can I answer a simple question such as “How is Protei doing?”. We have come a long way. From a small garage in New Orleans during the BP oil spill, through the storm in the Pacific ocean and now in Hong Kong since last year. It has been 4 years. We are finally about to deliver all our Kickstarter rewards, as we promised. We are turning the page and starting a new chapter of this great adventure with Open Technologies, to explore and protect the oceans, together. This report should give you a good overview of our current situation, future strategies and hopefully make you want to engage more with us, as a sponsor, investor, partner, buyer, community or team member.

This is a google doc, please ask questions and add comments on it to help us improve, thanks a lot.

pdf archive (19mb) : http://protei.org/download/20140728Protei_Progress_Report.pdf

20140729 Cesar Harada & Protei on South China Morning Post

Thanks to Darren Wee, we have a full page in the South China Morning Post (New York Times equivalent in Asia) today, July 29th, 2014. Page C5.

Cesar HARADA & Protei on SCMP

https://www.flickr.com/photos/worldworldworld/14773529352/sizes/k/

Yuen Long farm an hour from the sea may not seem like the ideal location for a boat workshop, but it’s where French- Japanese environmentalist and inventor Cesar Harada is based.

That’s where he is designing and building unique robotic boats with shape-shifting hulls and the ability to clean up oil spills. The hull changes shape to control the direction “like a fish”, Harada, 30, says. It is effectively a second sail in the water, so the boat has a tighter turning circle and can even sail backwards.“I hope to make the world’s most manoeuvrable sailboat,” he says. “The shape-shifting hull is a real breakthrough in technology. Nobody has done it in a dynamic way before.”Harada hopes one day a fleet of fully automated boats will patrol the oceans, performing all sorts of clean-up and data- collection tasks, such as radioactivity sensing, coral reef imaging and fish counting.

Asia could benefit greatly because, Harada says, the region has the worst pollution problems in the world. Yet the story of his invention started in the Gulf of Mexico, following one of the most devastating environmental disasters in recent years – the 2010 BP oil spill. Harada was working in construction in Kenya when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hired him to lead a team of researchers to develop a robot that could clean up the oil.

He spent half his salary visiting the gulf and hiring a fisherman to take him to the oil spill. More than 700 repurposed fishing boats had been deployed to clean up the slick, but only 3 per cent of the oil was collected.

It then dawned on him that because the robot he was developing at MIT was patented, it could only be developed by one company, which would take a long time, and it would be so expensive that it could only be used in rich countries.

This realisation made Harada quit his “dream job” to develop an alternative oil-cleaning technology: something cheap, fast and open-source, so it could be freely used, modified and distributed by anyone, as long as they shared their improvements with the community. He moved to New Orleans to be closer to the spill, and taught local residents how to map the oil with cameras attached to balloons and kites.

Harada set up a company to develop his invention, originally based in New York before moving to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and then San Francisco. Now, Harada says he will be based in Hong Kong for at least the next five years. He built his workshop and adjoining office in Yuen Long himself in five months on what used to be a concrete parking space covered with an iron roof after acquiring the site in June last year.

He first visited Hong Kong last year while sailing around the world on a four-month cruise for entrepreneurs and students. It is the perfect location for his ocean robotics company, he says, because the city’s import-export capabilities and the availability of electronics in Shenzhen are the best in the world. Also, Hongkongers are excited about technology, setting up a business is easy, taxes are low and regulations flexible, he says.

He named the boat Protei after the proteus salamander, which lives in the caves of Slovenia. “Our first boat really looked like this ugly, strange, blind salamander,” Harada
says with a laugh. He later discovered that Proteus is the nameofaGreekseagod–oneof the sons of Poseidon, who protects sea creatures by changing form, and the name stuck. “He is the shepherd of the sea,” Harada says.

Harada built the first four prototypes in a month by hacking and reconfiguring toys in his garage, and invented the shape-shifting hull to pull long objects. A cylinder of oil- absorbent material is attached to the end of the boat that soaks up oil like a sponge. The shape-shifting hull allows the jib – or front sail – and the main sail to be at different angles to the wind, allowing the boat to sail upwind more efficiently, intercepting spilled oil that is drifting downwind. “Sailing is an ancient technology that we are abandoning. But it’s how humans colonised the entire earth, so it’s a really efficient technology,” Harada says. “The shape-shifting hull is a superior way of steering a wind vessel.”

The prototype is now in its 11th generation. The hull, which measures about a metre long, looks and moves like a snake’s spine. Harada built 10 prototypes this month, which are sold online to individuals and institutions who want to develop the technology for their own uses. He has collaborators in South Korea, Norway, Mexico and many other countries. “The more people copy us, the better the technology becomes,” he says. Harada, who describes himself as an environmental entrepreneur, says investors have offered to buy half of the company, but he has turned them all down. “They do not understand the environmental aspect of the business,” he says.  “They want to build big boats and sell them as expensively as possible.”

Harada has a bigger vision for Protei. He wants to create a new market of automated boats. He hopes that one day they will replace the expensive, manned ocean-going vessels that are currently used for scientific research. He says one of these ships can cost tens of millions of dollars, and a further US$4,000 worth of fuel is burned every day. That does not include the cost of a captain, three or four crew members, a cook and a team of researchers.The expense of these research missions is one of the reasons we know so little about the ocean, Harada says. We have explored only 5 per cent of the ocean, even though it covers 70 per cent of the earth. “We know more about Mars than we know about the ocean.”

He notes that there is no gravity in space, so we can send up huge satellites. But submarines that have tried to explore the depths of the ocean have been crushed by the pressure of the water. Ships are not free from risk, either.“Seafaring is the most dangerous occupation on earth,” Harada says. More people die at sea than on construction sites. An automated boat would also prevent researchers from being exposed to pollution and radiation. Harada’s Japanese family live 100km from Fukushima, and he will go back there for a third time in October to measure the underwater radioactivity near the site. Although he admits to being scared, “it’s the biggest release of radioactive particles in history and nobody is really talking about it”.

Harada is also working with students from the Harbour School, where he teaches, to develop an optical plastic sensor. “We talk a lot about air pollution, but water pollution is also a huge problem,” he says. He says industries in countries such as India and Vietnam have developed so fast and many environmental problems in the region have not been addressed. “In Kerala [India], all the rivers have been destroyed. The rivers in Kochi are black like ink and smell of sewage. Now it’s completely impossible to swim or fish in them.”

Hong Kong has not been spared, either. Harada joins beach clean-ups on Lamma Island and says even months after an oil spill and government clean-up last year, they found crabs whose lungs were full of oil. He says locals fish and swim in the water and there are mussels on the seabed that are still covered in oil.

“The problem is as big as the ocean,” Harada says. But he believes if man made the problem, man can remedy it. The son of Japanese sculptor Tetsuo Harada, he grew up in Paris and Saint Malo and studied product and interactive design in France and at the Royal College of Art in London. But he believes that at an advanced level, art and science become indistinguishable.

“I don’t see a barrier between science and art at the top level,” he says. “It’s where imagination meets facts.” darren.wee@scmp.com

We are currently looking

  • for sponsors
  • for an industrial space by the water in Hong Kong
  • boat buyers (small 1m unit, 4m large autonomous unit for data collection, 7.m for 2 sailors leisure)
  • Intern Electric Engineer
  • Intern Software developer on Android, with interest in robotics
  • Intern Aeronautical / Naval egineer interested in biocomposites
  • Intern Web developer

Please contact admin@scoutbots.com / call +852 9610 8167

 

Protei sur Thalassa, 25 Juillet 2014

http://www.france3.fr/emissions/thalassa/blog-actu/?p=2489

Vendredi 26 Juillet a 20:45, sur France 3, Thalassa Special Saint Malo.

Un très grand merci à Fanny Pernoud, Olivier Bonnet (Improbable production) et Fixi (Musique) pour ce beau reportage diffusé sur Thalassa, Planête Thalassa et TV5.

Nous sommes actuellement a la recherche de :

  • Sponsors pour Protei
  • Investisseurs pour Protei
  • Acheteur pour nos petits Protei 011.1, pour le hobby ou les tests en bassin de carène (upgrade de 011 – en cours de fabrication)
  • Acheteur pour nos moyen bateaux autonomes a coque articulés, pour la recherche côtière (environ 4m de long).
  • Acheteurs pour nos grand bateaux pour 2 passagers, pour le loisir sportif (environ 7m de long).

Notre équipe grandit et nous cherchons :

  • Ingénieur robotique
  • Développeur/se Android & Arduino
  • Architecte naval / Aéronautique 
  • Mécanicien/ne des fluides (physique expérimentale)
  • Science des matériaux (bio-composites) et procédés industriels
  • Developer web pour site communautaire et données géographiques en temps réel

Nous publierons bientôt des descriptions détaillées pour les stages / missions / positions à Hong Kong et en ligne.

Merci de contacter admin@scoutbots.com pour toute questions – nous faisons au mieux pour vous répondre dans les meilleurs délais. Merci de votre intérêt et de votre patience.

Rejoignez notre communauté en ligne : https://www.facebook.com/scoutbots

Protei Seminar at CUHK, Computer Science & Engineering

Protei Seminar at CUHK, July 7 2014, Computer Science & Engineering

https://www.facebook.com/events/340772259410450/?context=create&source=49

The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Seminar

Autonomous Shape-Shifting Sailing Robot,  Controls and Communications in a Modular Robot

Mr. Cesar HARADA
Former MIT project leader,
CEO Protei & Scoutbots,
Master Royal College of Arts London UK

  • Date : July 7, 2014 (Monday)
  • Time : 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Venue : Room 121, 1/F, Ho Sin-hang Engineering Building, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T. MTR University Exit A

Total 50 seats. 30 seats for CUHK researchers, 20 for visitors. Please confirm you are coming on Facebook event.

ABSTRACT
Imagine a wind-powered sailboat that is shaped like a train. Each single wagon has it’s own Android device, control of shape and sail angle, it’s own power supply and dedicated sensors. The machine can work as one large machine (train) or as a fleet of independent agents disseminated in the ocean (swarm) to carry data collection or ocean clean up equipment. It would perform missions such as oil spill detection, radioactivity sensing, plastic pollution mapping, coral reef imaging, fish counting and other experiments. What on board app and server side software would need to be developed? How would we generate maps and make decisions based on these different streams of data? How can we make the system resilient while solving complex computational problems in a distributed, unstable and hostile environment?

BIOGRAPHY
Cesar Harada (30) is a French-Japanese environmentalist, inventor and entrepreneur based in Hong Kong. CEO of Protei INC (USA) and Scoutbots (HK) Cesar has dedicated his life to explore and protect the ocean with open technologies. Protei is a shape-shifting sailing robot, a wind-powered maritime drone that is remotely controlled or automated that will collect ocean data or transport clean-up equipment. Cesar is a Former MIT project leader, TED Senior Fellow, GOOD 100, IBM Figure of Progress, Unreasonable at Sea Fellow, Shuttleworth Foundation and Ocean Exchange grantee. Cesar won the Ars Electronica Golden Nica [NEXT IDEA] with his Master graduation project from the Royal College of Arts, London. Cesar has been teaching Masters in Design and Environment at Goldsmiths University in London, Versailles architecture School in France and lectured around the world. Cesar believes that nature, human and technology can coexist in harmony.

Enquiries: Miss Evelyn Lee at tel. 3943 8444
For more information, please refer to www.cse.cuhk.edu.hk/seminar  &  www.scoubots.com
**** ALL ARE WELCOME ****

Slides : http://goo.gl/Wrb5OI / pdf 2mb

Developing a Plastic Sensor for the ocean

I feel so happy to happy to work with a group of the Hong Kong Harbour School kids to develop an optical plastic sensor for the ocean on Instructables!

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 20.40.48

http://www.instructables.com/id/Remote-Controlled-Optical-Plastic-Sensor/

You can download the current pdf here (4mb) : http://protei.org/download/20140707Remote-Controlled-Optical-Plastic-Sensor.pdf

https://twitter.com/cesarharada/status/485764878385172480/photo/1

Where is all the plastic in the ocean?

About 10 days ago, we went out with a little group of students and we intentionally spilled 138 gr of plastic samples in a small lake in Hong Kong to test our optical plastic particle sensor. After a few seconds we had to stop the test because our experiment became the feast of many fishes and turtles. It was terrifying to see how quickly plastic debris spread, how voraciously animals came to eat it and how difficult it was to clean it up. It took 10 of us, 4 boats and 40 minutes to clean 138 gr of plastic debris with no waves, no current and very moderate wind. Imagine tons of plastic debris in the open sea and all the animals there…

Today  I have been under an avalanche of questions about plastic pollution in the ocean. It seems hard to trust a reliable source of information or maybe it is the science that is moving very fast. People ask me maybe because I have sailed across the gyre myself, collected plastic samples in Hawaii, and nowadays working on an optical plastic sensor with a team of young students in Hong Kong when I am not developing a fleet of sailing robots that I hope one day will be out there measuring plastic and other pollutions like radioactivity, acidification, oil spills, overfishing and other urgent ocean issues. But to be honest I have much more questions than I have answers – at this stage we all do. I am writing to compile some informations I came across recently, trying to make sense and propose some ideas.

 

When we found out

“Every year we produce about 300 million tons of plastic, a portion of which enters and accumulates in the oceans. [...] In 2012 alone, 288 million tons of plastic were produced (PlasticsEurope 2013), which is approximately the same weight of the entire human biomass (Walpole et al., 2012). [...] The discovery of fragmented plastic during plankton tows of the Sargasso Sea in 1971 led to one of the earliest studies of plastic in the marine environment. Using a 333 micron surface net trawl, Carpenter and Smith collected small fragments of plastics in 1971, resulting in estimates of the presence of plastic particulates at an average of 3,500 pieces and 290 g/km2 in the western Sargasso Sea (Carpenter and Smith, 1972). Shortly after, Colton et al., (1974) surveyed the coastal waters from New England to the Bahamas and confirmed distribution of plastic all along the North Atlantic. These studies have been recently updated in two comprehensive studies of the North Atlantic gyre (K. L. Law et al., 2010; Moret- Ferguson et al., 2010). Indeed, plastic is found in most marine and terrestrial habitats, including bays, estuaries, coral reefs, lakes and the open oceans. (Rochman et al., 2014, Wright et al., 2013). The ingestion rate of plastic particles by mesopelagic fish species in this area is estimated between 12,000 and 24,000 ton/year (Davison and Asch, 2011).
“How the oceans can clean themselves, A feasibility Study” Ocean Cleanup Array, June 2014.

 

What we thought we knew

AVANI-trawl, photo marcus Eriksen

I trust Algalita Foundation and 5 gyres for that I was lucky to meet them in person and they had been to several gyres many times as an independent non-profit organisation. Below are some journeys they have done with a manta trawler as you see a picture of above. They explain their method very well and in simple words here.
Gyre_Sampling_Locations_1999-2008_000
In 2008, we had a horrifying map but we felt somehow confident about the data.

Plastic ocean Ma

In 2010, Dohan and Maximienko  (Illustration above, 2010. Oceanography 23, 94–103.), based on the trawler data by Algalita and other organisations produced this famous simulation of where we should expect plastic to be. Don’t be fooled by some pictures you probably saw of the “plastic continent”, such thing does not exist in the middle of the ocean.

Yet, the Algalita announced that “Estimates of plastic in the world’s oceans exceed 100 million tons. Though 20% comes from ocean sources like derelict fishing gear, 80% comes from land, from our watersheds.” http://www.algalita.org/pdf/PLASTIC%20DEBRIS%20ENGLISH.pdf

So at this stage, we thought, we would find tens of millions of tons of plastic debris in the gyres. Well…

 

What we think we know now

Thanks to Dr Blurton of the Hong Kong Harbour School who sent me the pdf, I was quite shocked with this new publication “Plastic debris in the open ocean” by Andrés Cózara, Fidel Echevarríaa, J. Ignacio González-Gordilloa, Xabier Irigoienb, Bárbara Úbedaa, Santiago Hernández-Leónd, Álvaro T. Palmae, Sandra Navarrof, Juan García-de-Lomasa, Andrea Ruizg, María L. Fernández-de-Puellesh, and Carlos M. Duartei. Good job ladies and gentlemen. The pdf is here : http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/06/25/1314705111.full.pdf
I am selecting only some essential information but I recommend you to read the paper, it’s short, only 5 pages + references.

"Concentrations of plastic debris in surface waters of the global ocean" Plastic debris in the open ocean
In 2010 (yes, 4 years ago – but the paper has been published June 6th 2014), the team embarked on a sailing journey around the world as the “Malaspina science expedition” , doing  3,070 ocean samples with a manta trawler. The grey areas is where prior research ( explained above) suggest they would find plastic accumulation, and that was verified as you see with the yellow, orange and red dots. But…

“Those little pieces of plastic, known as microplastics, can last hundreds of years and were detected in 88 percent of the ocean surface sampled during the Malaspina Expedition 2010,” lead researcher and the author of the study Andres Cozar from the University of Cadiz, told AFP. The total amount of plastic in the open-ocean surface is estimated at between 7,000 and 35,000 tons, according to the report. This amount, though big, is lower than the scientists expected.” http://rt.com/news/169564-ocean-surface-covered-plastic/

"Range of the global load of plastic debris in surface waters of the open ocean" Plastic debris in the open ocean

  • Before this paper, much of the attention was focused toward the North Pacific Garbage Patch => turns out all the other oceans are in bad shape too.
  • Before this paper, we knew plastic was present in all oceans but the general consensus was that it was accumulating in the center of the gyres mostly => Now we have measured plastic to be present on 88% of the world ocean surface. Pretty much everywhere.
  • Before this paper, the estimates were ranging from tens of millions of tons to hundred of millions of tons => Now maximum 35’000 tons. [silence] 35’000 tons? That’s it!!!??? Is that amazing good news, or is that bad news!?

 

What we (think we) really know now

Out of the estimated millions of tons of plastic debris we emit, we can now only find at most 35’000 tons spread over 88% of the oceans. S0 we know now where is less than 1% of the plastic we anticipated finding. Where is the 99%+ of the rest of the plastic? This is really embarrassing.

 

The media is going crazy about it

The articles about this are popping out from all part, I wont try to keep track of all the links, because they are pretty much all based on the same paper I mentioned above. Many are spreading panic, instead of awareness unfortunately.

 

What will the Ocean CleanUp  Array collect?

Back in October 2012 “according to Boyan Slat’s calculations, a gyre could realistically be cleaned up in five years’ time, collecting at least 7.25 million tons of plastic combining all gyres. He however does note that an ocean-based cleanup is only half the story, and will therefore have to be paired with ‘radical plastic pollution prevention methods in order to succeed.” (Wikipedia, retrieved July 2nd, 2014). 

In June 2014, in the feasibility study : “The Ocean Cleanup Array is estimated to be 33 times cheaper than conventional cleanup proposals per extracted mass of plastics. In order to extract 70 million kg (or 42 percent) of garbage from the North Pacific Gyre over 10 years, we calculated a total cost of 317 million euro.”

Multilevel Trawl

Sure, the “multi-level trawler” (p102 0f the Feasibility Study)  used by the Ocean Cleanup team is radically different from the “regular manta trawler” everybody else uses. But the difference of plastic quantity is not found here either. There are so many variables to making a correct plastic measurement, the speed of the boat, the size of the mesh, the position of the trawler in the regards to the wake of the boat, the wind and the waves …

So, how can the Ocean Cleanup collect 70’000 tons from the North Pacific Gyre alone if the most recent estimate of ALL the plastic in ALL ocean surface combined is only of 35’000 tons? And how can this information even be trusted when ” Last year, an estimated 150,000 tons of marine plastic debris ended up on the shores of Japan and 300 tons a day on India’s coasts (http://plastic-pollution.org/ retrieved July 3rd 2014)”.  If this recent study  from the Malaspina expedition confirms true, would the collection of plastic debris with the Ocean Cleanup array be less meaningful? And less profitable if at all? But wait, that is not the question. Of course we need to stop emitting plastic in the ocean – that’s not a new idea and that is self-evident. And of course we must collect the plastic that is already out there and will continue to accumulate in the ocean – even if it is expensive instead of profitable. I personally support Boyan Slat and his team. No matter how many people say “this is impossible” someone has got to try. Even if it is to fail, we must try and try again, again we succeed. This technology, or another technology.

But the real question remains : where is the plastic? How can we have plastic measurements dropping so dramatically?

 

How can we find out what is really going on?

Such a large amount of plastic has not disappeared over night, between 2008 (Algalita estimate) and 2010 (Malaspina measurements).

Scientists argue that :

  • some plastic breaks down so small, it goes through the fine plankton net they use. Plastic still floats but we can’t be measured unless we use an extra finer mesh that is probably more fragile, forcing the ship to move the trawler even slower (it was already recommended to sail at 2 Nautical Knots, well up to 8 knots for the fast Erikson trawler).
  • the plastic chemical composition changes causing it to distribute in the water column or sink at the bottom of the ocean
  • the plastic is being ingested by animals and is being pooped, dropping to the bottom of the ocean, or it moves into the food web with all it’s toxics and until it eventually reached our plates

But we don’t know yet in which proportions each of these phenomenon happen at all yet.

 

Some ideas

Optical sensing

If the plastic is so small that it go through the mesh, maybe it is not a mesh we should be using to measure plastic. What about optics?
For a long time Laser Optical Plankton Counters (LOPC) have been in use to measure plankton. We don’t collect physical sample, we collect data, the machine can keep running without interruption, the data is more granular and instantly processed.

Laser-Optical Plankton Counter (LOPC)  Laser-Optical Plankton Counter (LOPC)

In the LOPC, water carrying plankton is  flowing. The plankton is being “flashed” by a laser and it is from the outline it that is then counted automatically.

Laser-Optical Plankton Counter (LOPC)

Mobile sensing platform

Haching a video water channel at the Hong Kong aharbour School

With a motivated group of young students, we hacked a low cost water video channel.

Testing the Ocean Plastic optical sensor, Hong Kong Harbour School

We attached our optical sensor to a small Remote Controlled (RC) power boat. As we sailed, some water that contains plastic debris was video recorded and the plastics bits were also captured in the pink net at the back of the video channel. The point of the pink net is too measure the plastic physically collected that has travelled through the video channel, and compare it with the estimate that we can make from the video alone. We have not done that experiment comparison yet, but it would give us an idea of how reliable our video estimate is in comparison to the real measured weight of plastic collected.

We managed to capture video of plastic particles moving through the video channel. This still very rough.

 

Motion tracking of plastic parts


We have been very lucky to get some help from Edward Fung who started to tinker with the video on OpenCV.

 

Isolation and quantification of plastic

Now, it would be great if we could find out what is plastic and what is not. One of the greatest difficulty being that plastic debris becomes a habitat or a transport for a lot of marine life. How can an untrained software (as opposed to a machine learning based software) distinguish plastic from something else? Typically a plastic fragment would be wrapped into a “bubble” of organic matter, making it more difficult to isolate from an optical perspective. Thankfully, one student in our team, Brandon Wong found out this research : http://www.idec.com/sgen/technology_solution/our_core_tech/plastic_sensing.html

“We succeeded in developing technology that is capable of sensing plastics using an InGaAsP (Indium Gallium Arsenide Phosphide) semiconductor laser diode (LD)

It was discovered that upon measuring light absorption spectra in plastics, in the wavelength range of 300 to 3000 nm, the peak values were always observed at or near 1700 nm, regardless of plastic types. This discovery opened the possibility for simple optical sensing of plastics with the use of a LD in this wavelength range. Observation of unique light absorption characteristics within the near infra-red spectrum of each different plastic type has led us to develop the world’s first technology capable of detecting different types of plastics with the use of a LD (with three different wavelengths).”

So this is really exciting if we could use the right “lighting” and camera to optically detect such great variety of plastic. There are several inspiring DIY spectrometer projects out there to get inspired from. Check also the Riffle with Optical data logger capacity.

 

Size adjustment

If we manage to get that optical detection running, the last but not least challenge may be to scale  from a regular webcam to a microscope-scaled system.

 

"Size distribution of floating plastic debris collected during the Malaspina circumnavigation at calm conditions." Plastic debris in the open ocean

According to the research done during the Malaspina Ocean Expedition the plastic particles we are trying to measure are very very small… Could we be heading in the direction of microfluidic systems?

If the plastic debris we are trying to test are incredibly small, could we control the flow in a very precise yet robust way to perform spectral and / or chemical analysis? Many questions to explore…

So with such a system, could we answer the 2 first questions? :

  • sensing plastic that is extremely small
  • sensing plastic that is small and broken and sunk at the bottom of the ocean – that would imply that this machine can be taken thousands of meter deep : super high-pressure resistant

I day dream that a fleet of autonomous sailing robots doing the remote sensing work. In fact the Ocean Cleanup feasibility study mentions the relevance of deploying such sensor network system in it’s recommandation pages :

P439_Ocean cleanup array_TOC_Feasibility_study_lowres

Is that a fleet of Protei right there :) !?

And now the third question ? What part do animals have in the “plastic disappearing” plot? We wont be able to see that in an optical system unless we’re dealing with tiny transparent animals.

 

Animal testing

I feel terrible for even thinking about this but that is just an idea at this stage. What I am about to propose might be totally unethical, I don’t know. Marine biology and toxicology are not my areas at all. Forgive my ignorance and please correct anything wrong that I may propose, please comment to help.

As I used as this post introduction, our experience with dispersing 138gr of plastic had become a spill in a few seconds on which turtles and fishes came to feast. We had to interrupt the experiment and it took 10 of us during 40 minutes to collect 138gr of plastic debris with 4 boats on a lake that had no current, no waves and very moderate wind. What we learnt is that turtles and fishes love to eat plastic. In fact many studies about suffering, dead animal dissection and observation of carcasses indicate that birds, and marine animals feed abundantly on plastic. But how do you measure how much plastic an animal is willing to eat when given the choice?

In a controlled environment – say a box – we place an aquatic animal. We feed this animal a mix of plastic and “real” food in equal quantities with an excess of overall quantity.

  • Will the animal eat more food or plastic (behaviour)? Will that behaviour change over time? Does the animal develop a preference for certain plastic? By the taste? Smell? Texture? Colour? Motion?
  • How much plastic would still remain untouched in the environment?
  • How much plastic will travel through the digestive system?
  • How much plastic would remain within the digestive system? And if so, how much would the plastic be digested if at all?
  • What are the short term symptoms of plastic poisoning (mechanical) ?
  • What are the long term symptom of plastic poisoning (chemical)?
  • What is the lethal dose for type A / B / C / D / Plastic?
  • What is the most lethal shape or size of plastic fragment?
  • Is an animal dead by plastic attractive as a food form for another carcasses-eating animals?
  • When an animal dies and decompose, how much of the overall plastic of the experiment remains?

many more questions could be asked and variables included such as the size of the box, the season, the age of the animal, the sex, social learning doing the experiment with multiple animals simultaneously.

 

Who is active in Hong Kong?

There are several groups in Hong Kong interested in the topic of plastic pollution

 

My non-conclusion

What we thought we know about plastic pollution has just been challenged in a very big way. And I believe this will happen again soon as we investigate.
The plastic pollution is present at a whole different scale, both small for the particle size and huge by it’s distribution over pretty much the entire ocean surface (88%) and abyssal depths.
The effects of plastic pollution at theses scales are still very unknown. As we keep developing new concepts for ocean cleaning we are still lacking understanding of where is the plastic, how is it transformed while travelling great distances? How does it impact marine life? How does plastic and it’s chemical compounds travel through the food chain to our plates? What are the consequences on human health? What can we do about it?

The more we learn about plastic in the ocean and the more we understand how harmful of a substance it is. And as André Cózar concludes in this important paper.

The abundance of nano-scale plastic particles has still not been quantified in the ocean, and the measurements of microplastic in deep ocean are very scarce, although available observations point to a significant abundance of microplastic particles in deep sediments, which invokes a mechanism for the vertical transport of plastic particles, such as biofouling or ingestion. Because plastic inputs into the ocean will probably continue, and even increase, resolving the ultimate pathways and fate of these debris is a matter of urgency.

So many more questions now… But 2 ideas how to investigate. More ideas? Suggestions? Readings?

 

Cute wooden hut for the elderly fair

Sometimes I really enjoy taking manual work. Especially it is for a good cause, and to help friends. I love woodwork, and when Yanki Lee, of Hong Kong Design Institute DESIS Lab proposed me the opportunity to build their fair booth at the Senior Expo Asia, I was excited. Also because I had already worked with them on a Social Architecture workshop and I just love working with this team :)

Wooden Hut for Hong Kong Design Institute
It was just a line drawing a few days ago…


And after 3 versions became a final design.

Asia senior expo wooden hut HKDI DESIS
Followed a lot of fresh dust in my shop over the week end :)

Asia senior expo wooden hut HKDI DESIS
Take an empty fair space…

Asia senior expo wooden hut HKDI DESIS
Assemble the pieces…

Asia senior expo wooden hut HKDI DESIS
And there you go!

Asia senior expo wooden hut HKDI DESIS
It is not the most intricate carpentry work I have done but it was really fun and fast. Special thanks to Guillaume Dupont for his precious help.


Tomorrow morning, many senior citizens will come and enjoy our booth. I like the space we have created is intimate yet easily readable, you can access it with a wheel chair as it’s got no step, it is wood : warm and so different from other’s booth where it’s all plastic and shiny. The fair will not last for long, only 3 days! If you want the wood, let me know – and if you do, be ready to wrestle with bad quality screws – they are easy to screw in, they easily brake when screwed out. The take down will happen Thursdy July 3rd, from 19:00. Come with a van and email me to coordinate.

Check out the really cool content of the booth too ! The very interesting work of these designers folks creative about the ageing society : http://www.culturalconnections.hk/?p=687

 

 

What is the difference between “Collective Intelligence” and “Collective stupidity”?

Which one came first? Collective intelligence? Or collective stupidity? Are we getting more intelligent as a specie? Or are we destroying ourselves and the environment? Are other species smarter because they are not destroying themselves? Truth and science keep changing. What we claim true and “natural” one day is to be found untrue by the next generation. We can try our best, have the best intention, we still harm ourselves, others and the planet. Was the world a better place when “intelligent” being were not around? How can I know, how can we know we’re on the right path? Is collective intelligence the remedy to collective stupidity? Or the other way? What can individuals do? What can private companies do? If there is no clear answer, what is the right question to ask?

I was lucky to be invited by the Chalhoub group in Dubai to speak about “Collective intelligence” and share some personal and collective experiences I took part in. I am posting my slides here as I had many (174 slides!). Thanks to my speaker agency, the Lavin Agency.

I speak here about :

1. Connect yourself
Your life on one page

2. Connect others
Social architecture

3. Change the world
Collective stupidity
The ocean
Protei
Open source
Crowd funding, Crowd sourcing, global innovation network
Sailing around the world
Open Hardware for the Environment projects

4. The value of a team, teams values
Ups and downs
Yurt story
Mission : what we do
Luxury : excellence, against planned obsolescence, elegance, sustainability
Ethics : why we do it, how we do it
Family values, Bushido
Carolien Whaley (Nike Foundation)
Spirit : Team spirit, fairplay, pursue victory, accept defeat, humble, persistence,
Brainstorming rules

5. Value your team can create in society
Evolution of our society
Agriculture, Industry, Service, information, intelligence, wisdom, creativity

6. Why this is the greatest place in the universe
Geographical and values shift
Pioneer spirit
Limited ressources, unlimited possibilities
11’000 people team
Trust network

I was asked some interesting questions. The answers here are short edited versions of what I answered / or maybe what I wish I answered.

> Crowd sourcing is great but how do you moderate ideas?
_ Now of course, we need to manage budgets and deadlines too. So we encourage the bad ideas die as fast as possible, or are turned into good idea by experience, by learning. So, we  don’t moderate that much, the ocean moderates good and bad ideas. We encourage people to test ideas, good ideas lives, bad ideas die, natural selection. We are lucky that we can be nice and encouraging, the ocean can be unforgiving.

>Why dont you work with big brands?
_ We would love to work with brands – please introduce us :)

> How did you get to live on a rooftop in the middle of London financial district?
_ Because it is possible.
>It’s illegal no?
It is extra-legal – not illegal. It is a temporary structure and no one lives there permanently.

> What is the main strategy for collaboration?
_ The underlying most important narrative in collaboration is respect. If you talk to a 5 years old or to your boss, you want to give your full attention and respect to that person, like if that person was saying the smartest thing in the world.
In my case respect comes from curiosity. The best idea come from unexpected places. So you want to be humble and listen to  all. Let your open, loving and creative mind make decisions, not your prejudices.
In practice, we use some brainstorming rules :

  •  Be crazy. Everything is possible
  •  Build on each other ideas
  •  Quantity -> Quality
  •  Make, test, learn [repeat]

The Future of Maker Space a “Seeing Space” ?

thttp://vimeo.com/97903574

What if we designed a new kind of “maker space” — a space that isn’t just for putting pieces together, but also for seeing and understanding a project’s behaviour in powerful ways?

– seeing inside
– seeing across time
– seeing across possibilities

“I think people need to work in a space that moves them away from the kinds of non-scientific thinking that you do when you can’t see what you’re doing — moves them away from blindly following recipes, from superstitions and rules of thumb — and moves them towards deeply understanding what they’re doing, inventing new things, discovering new things, contributing back to the global pool of human knowledge.”

Presented at the EG conference on May 2, 2014.
Art by David Hellman.

Bret Victor — http://worrydream.com

I really enjoyed watching this brilliant video by Bret Victor. Thanks Stewart McKenzie for sharing this on the Hong Kong HackJam group on facebook.  I have been thinking a lot about these “issues” because I build robots (and typically the workshop building and buy the tools too). For the moment, my robots are pretty dumb, but I imagine the day they “become smarter”  it will become increasingly difficult to understand them, especially if they operate far from sight, in the ocean. Hopefully the dashboard does not have to be a massive control room, but maybe just a few screen (a dashboard), or something more immersive that -hopefully- many people could afford – because we ought to make a fleet!

Recently I started teaching to young kids about robotics, hacking, environmental sensing. We started building a workbench, and just a few days ago  the sensor part of the robot. In our last class the students were divided in 2 teams, one is “electro-mechanics”, the other is “electronics and software”. I insisted we have a 3rd group that would be “environment and protocol” but no kid wanted to join. Because they perceived that the environment and protocol is not a “thing”. In fact the environment is the “thing” we work in. It determines, it is the conditions of all the experiments and cannot be overlooked.

I believe most of what is described in this video to exist in many places where people do “experimental physics“. I was very fortunate to be involved in such environment where we study things by “seeing” them. But I must stress that we SENSE more than we SEE. Seeing is merely just one of the way we document the experiments we conduct. In fact putting the emphasis and naming the whole system a “seeing space” is rather misleading I feel. I believe we have passed the “society of the spectacle”, and we are in the making of the “sensing” (with the internet of things), and perhaps one day “thinking” and “feeling” society. But that’s another debate.

The aesthetics of a sensing space

I was also lucky to be the assistant of Usman Haque and Adam Somlai Fisher years ago in the making of Reconfigurable house / Scattered house in London.

Contrary to what Bret Victor suggested, the reconfigurable house was aimed to be cheap. I really want to see a “Seeing space” made with low cost HD webcams, because hey, they do exist very much. The reconfigurable house was made with hundreds of extremely cheap sensors hacked out of toys. The overall aesthetics was perhaps a “vibrant and healthy mess” but I believe that the aesthetics of the space were inviting to make and experiment / sense.

I have seen several sterile lab spaces and unproductive messy hackerspaces but I claim these are nothing but caricatures. Some tidy labs and messy hackerspace do awesome work, the opposite also exist. I feel the video presents a space that is a little bit too tidy and expensive to be “truly” creative. If you have to be too careful when you make a move, it’s hard to “move fast and break things“. But maybe it was required to “sell” the project – or make newbies / investors feel more comfortable about the whole project – I would understand. It is hard to find that balance of tidiness and transient creative energy but I believe it is also our responsibility and discipline to share the aesthetics that most likely will help science emerge from tinkering. Thanks Bret Victor. I look forward to see your sensing space come to life :)

 

Tesla going Open Source

Thanks to my friend Clement Epie who sent me this link : http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/all-our-patent-are-belong-you

Elon Musk (Tesla electric cars, SpaceX) announced to go open source. That’s huge. Mr Musk, if you are reading this, you have now become my hero, officially.

I have been following Elon Musk for a couple of years now. Since the first time I saw him, he struck me as someone that is genuine. I was very touched when I saw him nearly crying when he was criticised by Neil Amstrong, the first man to walk on the moon and one of the men he most respects, in the video at the bottom of this post. I also felt his experience “Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death” echoed with my experience at the time.

I am reposting his post underneath because I agree with it all, it is concise yet contains all the right arguments for a big company to become open source.

Girl geek starring at wall of patents
Visitor Starring at the Wall of patents at Tesla motors that no longer is.

“June 12, 2014
All Our Patent Are Belong To You
By Elon Musk, CEO

Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

When I started out with my first company, Zip2, I thought patents were a good thing and worked hard to obtain them. And maybe they were good long ago, but too often these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors. After Zip2, when I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever possible.

At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.

At best, the large automakers are producing electric cars with limited range in limited volume. Some produce no zero emission cars at all.

Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.

We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.”


“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favour”.