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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




Please download pdf here :

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 :


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.
Philippe COUTURE. French documentary Film maker, architect & permaculture researcher.



Text in Japanese  :

協働型 海底放射線マッピング







- 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。






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


データ:公有財産(Public Domain)


Cesar HARADA (メール 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: )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。


20140531 Scoutbots at TEDxHongKongED

Original post on :

Cesar HARADA, “People, places, things, ideas”

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


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

Cesar HARADA at TEDxTallinn Estonia

My slides are here

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 :

20130321 Earth Hour 2013

For one hour, could humanity unite to realise that we are one? Earth hour is tomorrow. Be part of it!

20130321 EarthHour


20130221 Singapore, Startup Country

Unreasonable at Sea: Episode – Taking Stage in Singapore from Unreasonable Media on Vimeo.

Singapore is a bubble. It is described as a “startup city” since its independence recognised in 1824. Singapore has been following its motto “Onward Singapore” to become the world 4th financial center, pretty impressive for a  710km2 territory. According to TechCrunch, Singapore has the best ecosystem for startups in Asia.

Protei in Singapore

The event at the INSEAD was very impressive. Many important people came and we had great discussions and learning nuggets. Even more than Hong Kong did, Singapore presented itself as the platform to develop projects in East Asia. It is true that Singapore supports very effectively new comers when it comes to business. The government can easily become a real share-holder of your company which can potentially give you a lot of stability and growth but at the same time restricts your business reactivity / mobility.
We intended to put Protei in the water and immediately residents told us we would be fined the equivalent of 5000 USD for putting anything in the water without permission. I enjoyed our 38 hours in Singapore, but I cannot imagine living there or doing R&D in a place that is that so strictly regulated.

Earth Hour Headquarters in Singapore

Singapore was also the opportunity to meet friends, here the amazing Dave Lim, TEDxSingapore organiser at the WWF supported Earth Hour headquarters that he directs.

Protei in Singapore

As most other passengers were gone, we had the chance to test Protei pulling some oil spill super absorbant OPFLEX in the swimming pool of our ship the MV Explorer.

But I must say that my favorite moment of the leg was to meet with dear friend Durreen Shahnaz. Below is her inspiring TED Talk about her story and Asia IIX, the first stock exchange for social good.

It was great to listen her speak about the region practices of investment, philanthropy, environmental issues and how we could best bring Protei to the asian market. We’ll be back!

The Political relevance of Open Hardware

TEDxVilaMada, Sao Paulo, Brasil, Protei

Yesterday, I was representing Protei and the Open_H2O community in TEDxVilaMada in Sao Paulo. The theme of the conference was “nosso planeta agua” (our planet water), and thanks to the sponsorship of Unilever, the event was able to fly me to the event. The line-up of speakers was pretty spectacular including Kaka Wera or Izabella Teixeira the Minister for the Environment in Brasil. As she was on stage, answering the questions of Natalia Menhem -one of the organisers of the event- 2 demonstrators came in front of the stage and deployed banners : “Salvem os Rios”, “Novo Codigo ruralista”, “Liberta Rio Xingu”. 2 demonstrators, than 4, than 6, so much that they totally masked the stage with their colourful banners. They stayed silent there with their arms raised reclaiming environmental justice in front of an audience that was definitely sold to the cause – awkward. Eventually they voiced their concerns to the ministry representative, everyone agreed and I was personally pleased that both faces of environmentalism – namely governmental and activists – could take the stage. They finally left. TEDxs are no political events ; that “incident” was not curated by the organisers, but consequent to the presence of a government representative that has to deal with extremely controversial issues. The TEDx organisers did their very best to maintain a climate of peace and dialog and have all parties respected and heard.

Building immense dams, interrupting or deviating rivers often have dramatic consequences on the environment and indigenous groups settled for sometimes thousands of years on these rivers. Many will argue that this is the cost to have “clean energy” and not having to develop a dangerous and costly nuclear infrastructure in Brasil where hydro and and deep water drilling for oil and gas have powered a spectacular socio-economic growth in recent years.

What struck me is that both the demonstrators and the politician had a common goal : environmental protection and social inclusion through abundance (of food, energy, money, place to live). What they argue about are certainly socio-economical issues, leading to displacement of population, but what everyone need is a common understanding of the situation. One of the main cause of dispute is water pollution. The government is making measurements and observations that the population disagrees with, the population makes their own observations that the institutions ignore. It is basically the government working for the population failing at communicating what motivates their decisions in the democratic process ; it is the population failing to present their request in an intelligible and structured way. Angry yet silent protesters in front the frustrated government environmental representative, both defending the same cause is a perfect illustration of that.

But here comes “Hardware Livre” (Open Hardware in brazilian) that I see as a place of convergence of interests :

  • Government : the government to make decisions, needs to have environmental instruments that are cheap, reliable and transparent. Currently operated by professionals, they could also be operated by academics and local residents -including those affiliated with environmental groups (citizen science). It would be cheaper for the government, it would include the residents at the very source of the decision making process and legitimate their decisions.
  • Activist (residents, environmentalists) : activists will be satisfied to have affordable open source tools that can be recognised by the government, an environmental monitoring system they can partly control and generate content for.

We can add to these groups :

  • Academics : alike residents, academia is always looking for affordable, reliable, easy to calibrate and maintain tools. Tools that would make them competitive, accelerate research and publication.
  • Industry : making money building these instruments. Everyone being able to start manufacturing open hardware technology, we should see a healthy and thriving concurrence on providing governments, activists and researchers high specification tools.
 Government, Industry, Academia, Citizen, Open Hardware

So not only governments and activist can find a space of communication, but this discussion can be supported by both an established or newly generated academia and industry : Open Hardware for the Environment.

Open Hardware technology, in the context of environmental sensing comes to its full potential when used by all parties for it’s quality of

  • Transparency and verifiability of both data produced, and the instruments used to produce data.
  • Accountability of all parties, both government and environmentalists
  • Fast technology development by the community
  • Affordable, Inclusive and Scalable tools for everyone.

Open Hardware is one of the key to the “Next Industrial Revolution” and it is our responsibility to make sure that next industrial revolution is not even more harmful than the previous one. Open Hardware can lead to the proliferation of unequal incompatible standards , as well as it has the potential to raise each technology to the best that collective human intelligence can generate in a wikipedia’s style incremental improvement.
I personally see the development of Open Hardware for the Environment as vital shift of the next manufacturing revolution in harmony with nature, and that could be understood perhaps, as a political message.

At this same conference, another brilliant speaker was Apolo Lisboa. Lisboa was forced to exile from Brasil and for many years, he obtained political asylum in Chile, Argentina, Belgium and Algeria. I took a few quotes from him (from Brazilian to English – uncertified translations) :

  • “Humans shares the ecosystem with many other animals”
  • “We cannot dissociate natural and cultural history”
  • “All systems : aquatic, atmospheric, energetic, human, animal, transport, cultural are part of the same complex ecosystem.”
  • “This way of system thinking became a political project”
  • “A political system that connects everything”
  • “Politics cannot be only about elections and power”.

Although I respect his views and perceives this as a relatively coherent perception of the world, I can see how a “total system” that defines macro and micro aspects of Life, could be intimidating and potentially oppressive (total as in totalitarian). I personally do not want to change the system by enunciating the general rules by which I think it should be governed, but rather re-designing small key elements of this system.
My point here is that Open Hardware had it a political dimension, I refuse to transform it into a political proposition, or system. In fact, pretending Open Hardware is a political movement, would discredit and weakens its capacity to transform our societies, loosing it’s neutrality and credibility.

My conclusion is : Open Hardware has political relevance, but is not a political proposition. The Next Industrial Revolution may be largely powered by the Open Hardware movement but would harm the environment if the Environment is not at the heart of this deep society transformation. Open Hardware for the Environment is a necessity but is validated only if used, improved and profits the environment, citizens,  academia, industry and governments.

20121129 Protei at TEDxVilaMada, Sao Paulo Brasil

November 29th of 2012, I will have the great honor of  presenting Protei in Sao Paolo Brasil, at the TEDxVilaMada on the theme “our planet water” (Nosso planeta Agua).



20121013 TEDxYoungstorget Oslo, Protei for the city 2.0
Archive (426mb) :


The City 2.0 page :
TED Page :
Stream : 
Slideshow here : 

I am  presenting Protei and Open-H2O at TEDxYoungstorget in Oslo.


Youngstorget square
October 13th, 2012
8:00pm-9:30pm (GMT 2hrs)

Cesar Harada
Photo by Marie2403

Event Type :TEDxCity2.0

This event is invite-only. Tickets are available.
Ticketing policies vary by event.