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What is this?
Protei Mini-RC "Sputnik" is a remotely controlled (radio) modular sailing robot. The design is aimed at being easy to make in most makerspace, low cost, easily extendable. This is NOT a high-performance device and not fit for long-term navigation in the open ocean. This is a small prototype to get acquainted with Protei Shape-Shifting sailing technology, and a fun platform to experiment. If you already own a RC kit (receiver + transmitter) Protei MIni-RC "Sputnik" with 4 modules should definitely cost under 100 USD to build (in San Francisco).

How does it work?

Why doing this?
The ocean is where all life comes from, but it is dying. Acidification, plastic pollution, oil spills, radioactive spills, agriculture and industrial run-offs... Right now, to study the ocean, you would typically use satellite data our go with a big ship, with a team of qualified scientists, that is expensive, slow and dangerous. How can we make it affordable, fast and safe? Many universities and companies are working on developing surface vessels that would be effective and affordable, but no one is quite there yet.

This instructables is the continuation of Protei "Cardboard Model" built thanks to the support of Autodesk Pier 9 "Impact Residency Program" and the Autodesk Foundation.

Step 1: The Inspiration: Sputnik & Other Contemporary Ocean Robotics Devices

The main inspiration for this prototype is Sputnik.

Sputnik 1 (/ˈspʌtnɪk/; Russian: Спутник-1 [ˈsputnʲɪk] "Satellite-1" was the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957. It was a 58 cm (23 in) diameter polished metal sphere, with four external radio antennae to broadcast radio pulses. It was visible all around the Earth and its radio pulses were detectable. This surprise success precipitated the American Sputnik crisis and triggered the Space Race, a part of the larger Cold War. The launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments. From Wikipedia.

What I love about Sputnik is its simplicity and ruggedness in design, and how it motivated a generation into space exploration. I hope the same kind excitement happens with the oceans.

Of course it is also important to look into contemporary ocean exploration devices and in these last years there have been some really interesting developments. Just a few references:

  1. Saildrone: http://saildrone.com/
  2. Wave Glider: http://www.liquid-robotics.com/
  3. Datamaran: http://www.automarinesys.com/wp-content/uploads/2...
  4. UBC Sailbot Ada: https://ubcsailbot.org/
  5. Pilothouse: http://srlm.io/2015/07/02/introducing-pilothouse-...
  6. Ardusailor: https://github.com/kolosy/ArduSailor
  7. Green powered sailbot: https://hackaday.io/project/10652-green-powered-s...
  8. Epsom College Sailing Robot: http://www.rock7mobile.com/case-study-epsom
  9. YunZhou Tech: http://www.yunzhou-tech.com/

Also, because of the nature of Protei shape-shifting sailing robot, it is important to mention robotic snake research

  1. Sneel, by Gabriella Levine: http://gabriellalevine.com/SNEEL
  2. SnakeRobot S2: http://www.snakerobots.com/S2.html
  3. Titanoboa: http://titanoboa.ca/
  4. EE 125 Robot Snake: https://sites.google.com/site/ee125robotsnake/pro...
  5. Kraken : http://www.sgsphysics.co.uk/projects/the-poseidon...

And these projects are also very inspirational to me and feature technology Protei can definitely learn from

  1. OpenROV: http://www.openrov.com/
  2. Fathom: http://fathomdrone.com/
  3. Ibubble: http://ibubble.camera/
  4. Octanis: http://octanis.org/rover/
<p>This is really extremely cool. I can't get over how cool this is.</p><p>It does, however, raise some questions. The biggest question I have is, if the idea is to make lots of little, autonomous sailboats for ocean science, doesn't that increase the amount of trash added to the oceans?</p><p>I mean, eventually these boats have to fail, and with larger number of boats, you'll have more failures. Compared to a full sized boat, which also have a much smaller chance of failure (or trash generation) per unit, I feel like we're increasing the impact to the ocean, while trying to study it.</p><p>Don't get me wrong though! I think this is a really cool idea that needs to be developed! It's like weather-balloon satellites and micro-satellites, in that it's opening exploration up to smaller institutions and individuals, and I think that's great!</p><p>Furthermore, the modular design not only allows for a bunch of cool configurations, it also provides an interesting way of optimizing geometry to improve performance.</p><p>I think this is really cool, and I'm looking forward to seeing how your tests go!</p>

About This Instructable

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Bio: Education: Makerbay.org - contact@makerbay.org Sailing robots: Protei Inc & Scoutbots CEO Personal: contact@cesarharada.com
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