In 2010, the French/Japanese ecology artist Cesar Minoru Harada initiated the Protei project in an attempt to get rid of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The idea of the project regards a fleet of sailing drones that clean pollution in open sea water. Using open-source technologies, eight prototypes have already been built. The project was crowd-funded on Kickstarter.
Protei has a long tail that allows for collection of oil across the sea. The drone is unmanned, avoiding the direct exposure of humans to toxic fumes. Furthermore, Protei is cheap to build and eco-friendly — it uses wind power to move. Once the boat is in the oil spill area, the boat starts to collect oil autonomously without intervention from humans.
The idea for Protei appeared to Harada when he learned about the BP oil spill in 2010. An oil spill of this size has a tremendous impact on the environment and on the marine ecosystem. The current oil skimming technology could only collect about 3% of the total amount of oil spread across the Gulf of Mexico. The workers too were subject to health hazards because of extended exposure to the oil. Besides oil spill cleaning, many other applications are envisioned for this revolutionary drone.