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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?

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

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”.

20140531 Scoutbots at TEDxHongKongED

Original post on : http://scoutbots.com/blogs/news/14309529-scoutbots-at-tedxhongkonged-20140531


Cesar HARADA, “People, places, things, ideas” http://youtu.be/GwP4zS3RMoE

It was a great honor to present Protei recent development at TEDxHongKong Ed. I was originally planning to speak about how much we are engaged into education with Scoutbots and Protei, but in the light of the discussion I had with the curators of the event, it turns out they were more interested in my personal learning experiences. So I am sharing here some very personal stories. I don’t know when the talk will be up online, but in the mean time you can enjoy my slides.

In this presentation I argued that I learn most from people I meet and work with, places I go and study, things that we make and play with, producing new ideas we love sharing.

The People I talk about :

  1. “Captain Courage” in New Orleans, that worked on the BP Oil Spill despite his handicap
  2. Nathan Prochownik, my figure of grand father, Shoah survival. His book about the death camps
  3. Tetsuo Harada, my father the Japanese sculptor based in Paris France

The Places :

  1. BP Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico
  2. Unreasonable at Sea
  3. Fukushima, journey with Safecast
  4. London, My yurt
  5. Hawaii, plastic pollution, video
  6. Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh city, water pollution
  7. India, Kochi, water pollution
  8. Ghana, Axium (near Takoradi), Oil pollution
  9. Hong Kong, Lamma Island Oil Spill, Oil pollution

The Things :

  1. Protei
  2. Windtrain

TEDxHKED

Thanks again to the organisers, and to all who attended for your support and attention.

Thanks to the other amazing speakers for inspiration : Daniel Makoski, Mark Sagar, Karin Ann, David Hanson, Steve Brown, Maurizio Rossi, Ryan Lee, Josh Steimle, Kim Anderson, Edwin Keh, Lizette Smook, George Skoumas, John Hoffmann, Po Chi Wu, Mark Kersten, Marty Schmidt, Judy Tsui, Bernie Quah, Underload, Jameson Gong.

Cesar Harada, Protei & Scoutbots CEO

20140523 Protei in France Info

Original Post : http://scoutbots.com/blogs/news/14228713-protei-on-france-info

 

Protei sur FRANCE INFO

We are lucky to have Protei featured in one of the good radio in France : FRANCE INFO. You can listen to the reportage on their website if you are feeling a little lazy to read :) Thanks to Côme Bastin, Journaliste of WE DEMAIN. Thanks a lot Meng Lau and BlackSheep HK Production for the picture :)

For our archive, I repost it here in French:

Protei : un drone marin pour dépolluer les océans

César Harada et son bateau Protei
César Harada, un jeune homme franco-japonais, veut dépolluer les océans avec ses bateaux sans pilotes et low-cost. César est à la fois un militant du logiciel libre, un activiste environnemental, un entrepreneur entêté et un globe-trotter chevronné.
Il s’appelle Protei. A première vue, il ressemble presque à un jouet, un petit bateau inoffensif. Détrompez-vous! Protei est un drone marin, conçu pour la défense de l’environnement.
César Harada consacre sa vie au perfectionnement de ce drone écolo.  Avec des chercheurs et des ingénieurs du monde entier, il a créé une coque spéciale qui lui permet d’être très maniable même par mauvais temps, comme durant les marées noires.

Un drone articulé

Protei possède différentes coques articulées entres elles qui lui permettent d’épouser la forme des vagues et de changer facilement de direction. Les plans de Protei sont open-source et l’on peut fabriquer Protei facilement avec des matériaux récupérés, un logiciel Arduino et une mécanique traditionnelle.
L’objectif est de permettre une production en grande quantité et à peu de frais de petits voiliers autonomes commandables à distance et capable d’intervenir en cas de catastrophe environnementale dans les océans.

“Anaconda” : un projet qui utilise l’énergie des vagues

César Harad a d’abord planché en Angleterre sur Anaconda, un projet de bateau qui récupère l’énergie des vagues pour se déplacer. Puis il a fait un tour au Kenya où il a travaillé pour Ushahidi (“témoin” en Swahili), une application mobile qui permet à tout un chacun de localiser et d’alerter sur un événement, comme une violence ou une pollution.

Origine du projet Protei

Après la marée noire, de 2010, liée à l’explosion de la plate forme pétrolière “Deepwater Horizon”, exploitée par la firme BP à 70 km des côtes de la Louisiane, il est recruté pour ses doubles compétences (design maritime, design logiciel) par le MIT pour plancher sur un projet de drone nautique capable de repérer la pollution et de nettoyer les océans.
Suite à des divergences éthiques, il quitte son poste. “Quand on veut développer de la technologie au service de l’environnement, on veut être certain que celle-ci va servir le plus grand nombre au moindre coût possible”, explique-il.
Après la Nouvelle Orléans, Londres, une conférence à Dubaï pour présenter son projet Protei et la remise d’un prix environnemental de 300.000 dollars pour son travail, il s’installe à Shenzen, au cœur de la Silicon Valey chinoise, pour accéder aux matériaux électroniques au plus bas coût possible. Il ouvre un atelier où il emploie designers et ingénieurs nautiques et informatiques et lance la fabrication de Protei.

Testé à Fukushima

Ce drone maritime à coque est aujourd’hui commercialisé en kit à 700 dollars, lorsqu’un bateau autonome entré de gamme se vend 28.000 dollars. César manque encore de sponsors pour passer à la production grande échelle, mais Protei a déjà été testé à Fukushima pour mesurer la radioactivité autour de la centrale. Une trentaine de bateaux ont déjà été commandés.

Cesar HARADA at TEDxTallinn Estonia

My slides are here
http://prezi.com/4xqopxwak0d6/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

The prototype that I presented to demo was tested (for the first time) the next morning in the parking lot in front of the hotel : http://youtu.be/yZu5t5Vqeoo

GOOD 100 + you

It is my great honour to be selected as GOOD 100 of 2014.
GOOD 2014, Cesar HARADA

http://magazine.good.is/projects/the100/profiles/cesar-harada

“There is an emerging identity crystallizing on our planet. People are increasingly considering their personal impact in a global light. We call this identity the global citizen. The 100 people you will learn about here capture what it means to be a global citizen in 2014. They belong to a community of doers that you too can be part of. But where to start? The first step is asking yourself what kind of doer you are. Inspired by the 100 members of the fourth annual GOOD 100 and the personality test published 52 years ago by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, we’ve created a 100-question quiz that will align your work with one of 16 “doer personality types.” Thus, as you make your way through the site, you won’t just be learning about 100 global citizens—hopefully you’ll be learning about 101.”

GOOD 100 selection
To celebrate and share the best of us with the GOOD community in Hong Kong, we are holding a free workshop :

  • Time : May 3rd, 15:00 – 17:30
  • Location : Paperclip co-working space, 3/F, Nam Wo Hong Building, 148 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 3586 2888
  • MTR Sheung Wan, Exit B

https://www.facebook.com/events/1498747023680499/

The workshop leaders will be Rachel Chan (also GOOD 100) and myself, on the invitation of GOOD HK chapter representative Maggie Lin.
“Cesar will lead the life-mapping exercise. Using himself as a case study, he will guide you to draw your entire life on a piece of paper: connecting your personal goals to that of others, and to what the world needs. Then Rachel will share tips and resources as to how your aspirations can be realized with her rich experience in doing good and doing well.”

I just met with Rachel Chan and I can guarantee she’s amazing. From GOOD 100 page :
“Rachel Chan is on a mission to light a fire beneath Asia’s business sector. In the growing landscape of social entrepreneurship in Asia, Chan is leading the charge to inspire young people to build innovative and socially positive startups. She believes that businesses should embrace the competitive and sustainable advantages of doing good, rather than acting out of social obligation or regarding it as a necessary burden. In 2007, Chan founded InnoFoco, a holistic social-branding agency in Hong Kong that helps startups maintain both their competitive edge and their commitment to social good. In 2010, InnoFoco partnered with the Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture to found Make a Difference, or MaD, an annual conference that brings together 1,500 young people who come from all over Asia to listen to talks by leading computer scientists, educators, artists, and business leaders. This March, Chan will launch Let’s Make a Difference HK!, an initiative to foster collaboration between high-impact startups and corporations in Hong Kong.”

We are looking forward to see you at the workshop! it’s going to be tons of fun!

20140312 Protei in Liberation, French Newspaper

20140311Liberation

20140311Liberationb

Great honor for us to be featured yesterday in the well distributed French newspaper Liberation alongside our distinguished sailing robots VAIMOS, Wave Glider, Emily and Saildrone. Thanks to Herve Marchon for the great article.  Full article on-line for the subscribers  here.

 

20140219 Cesar Harada at Media 360, Mothers choice invitation

I was happy to support Mothers choice charity dinner at the JW Marriott in Hong Kong.
In my 45 minutes presentation, I tried to make the audience connect to their life network of events, and to their own social network. The underlying idea being to understand oneself better to leverage all the people around you to achieve great projects. Below are my slides.

http://goo.gl/m0b7PQ

Mothers Choice is a Hong Kong based charity that makes a big difference in the life of teenage mothers and addresses many issues connecting to parenthood in Hong Kong. Please support.

Internship with Protei : deadline extended October 7th

http://www.slideshare.net/cesarharada/protei-internship-en-cn

Product Development Internship. Design and Engineer Ocean Robots / 產品研發實習生:海洋機器人設計及製造  >> Download PDF

Web Community Development Internship. Development of a collaboration platform for ocean roboticists  / 網絡社區拓展實習生:建立一個海洋機器人的協作平台.   >> Download PDF

Social Entrepreneurship Internship. Ocean robots, marketing and strategy / 社會企業發展實習生:市場營銷策略 >> Download PDF

Protei in the New York Times today

A Cruise on the S.S. Brainstorm

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/fashion/a-cruise-on-the-ss-brainstorm.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Delighted to read about Protei in the New York Times today. Special thanks to Melena Ryzik for the article. Archive as pdf here (1.5mb).

A version of this article appears in print on September 29, 2013, on page ST1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Cruise on the S.S. Brainstorm.

20130706 Protei on the TED Blog

Thanks to Karen Eng, Protei is being featured on the TED Blog.
http://blog.ted.com/2013/07/05/unreasonable-at-sea-fellows-friday-with-cesar-harada-who-circumnavigated-the-globe-with-protei/

20130706blog.ted4

20130525 Protei in Marinexplore

Protei in Marinexplore

http://marinexplore.org/blog/cesar-harada-protei-open-source-sailing-robot/

Thanks to Nico Danan. Video of Nils Mattisson and Bianca Cheng Constanzo made in Barcelona of Protei_10.5

Protei by Cesar Harada on BBC Horizon 2013

http://youtu.be/UCvS2d9LYZY
This is a rough cut of the BBC program, keeping only what’s about Openness and Protei or Cesar Harada. Great thanks to Graham Strong, all the BBC team , Toni Nottebohm for allowing some of her material to be shared, all the Protei team in the video and Tom Higgs. Also below a related article.

http://osswatch.jiscinvolve.org/wp/2013/04/17/is-tomorrows-world-an-open-source-one/

Is Tomorrow’s World an Open Source one?

Last week BBC’s Horizon put out a special episode looking at the next generation of technological advances. Two of the stories they reported caught my eye as they suggest that the future of innovation lies in an open way of working.

Liz Bonnin Horizon BBC

Liz Bonnin presented the show from one of The Science Museum’s storage hangers. Photo Credit:BBC

The first story looked at the work of Professor Bob Langer at MIT.  Professor Langer has received the Draper Prize and National Medal of Science for his work in biomedical engineering.  Langer’s approach to research is to bring experts from a range of fields together to create an interdisciplinary team.

Previous approaches to designing medical devices were designed by doctors based on existing materials.  Langer sought to design new materials to operate inside the body and be safely absorbed once their job was done.  To make this possible he assembled a team including engineers, chemists, neurosurgeons, pharmacologists and a number of other disciplines.

The approach of applying one expert’s knowledge to the problem posed in another’s primary field has many parallels with open innovation, and led to advances never thought possible by those working in single fields.

The second story reported on the Protei project which we heard about recently at Open Source Junction.  Protei was founded by Cesar Harada, and seeks to produce sailing drones which can be used to clean up oil spills.

Harada released his initial designs online and set out forming a community of scientists and engineers to collaborate on the project. Supported by a kickstarter campaign, over $33,000 dollars were raised allowing him to hire a work shop and invite his community to work together on the open hardware project.

The programme then focused on the contrast between the model of inventors patenting an invention which Harada characterised as “good for the manufacturer but not very good for the people”, to the “new culture of openness” shaping what we invent.

One comment that piqued my interest came from Gia Milinovich, who spoke of a “tension between the open source movement and business”, and a “battle between these two worlds”.  While this paints an exciting picture for a science documentary, I think the language used here was slightly disingenuous.

While we hear of stories where one company attacks another company who backs an open source project, these bear little distinction from companies litigating against each other over issues with no relation to open source. It’s fortunately very rare that we see a “battle” between a business and an open source community, and the examples of this are greatly outstripped by the examples where the two work together in harmony, indeed furthering one another’s goals.

Designer Wayne Hemingway then described how he “loved the idea” of an environment with no patents and no copyright, which while certainly a valid goal doesn’t do well to represent the way open source works.  The most common open source licences all at least require that the the original author be credited for their work, which in a copyright-free world wouldn’t be enforceable.

These criticisms aside, It’s great to see open source and open hardware getting airtime from a mainstream broadcaster like this.