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.
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:
Also, because of the nature of Protei shape-shifting sailing robot, it is important to mention robotic snake research
And these projects are also very inspirational to me and feature technology Protei can definitely learn from