The Story 

Cesar Harada, inventor and environmentalist, was working as a construction leader for a maker space in Kenya when the BP oil spill hit. He saw an immediate need for a way to clean waste without endangering human lives. Soon after, he joined MIT’s Senseable City Lab to find a sustainable solution. 

The Opportunity

After spending half his salary hiring a boat to canvas the damage along the Gulf of Mexico, he invented Protei, an autonomous sailing robot with bendable hulls that adjust to better catch the wind. Protei employs historically efficient wind power to drag oil absorbent material, gather data, and carry large loads to other boats. ScoutBots is a open source project so the technology is accessible to all, and can be engineered to fit unexpected ocean needs. 

The Impact

 The boats have already gone to work mapping radioactivity in Fukashima. Its small boats already exist and cost only a few hundred dollars, and Scoutbots’ larger boats are on the way soon. Since it’s conception, Scoutbots has won a number of accolades including Grand Award Winner of Startmeup Hong Kong 2014 and one of Fast Company’s top 10 most innovative of 2015 companies in China.