PATENTS - AUTONOMOUS VESSELS
An unmanned, autonomous, waterborne vehicle (500) for marine use capable of operating on and below the surface of water, said vehicle (500) including an enclosed hull (501) having a payload bay (506), a hybrid propulsion system having energy collection means (504) in the form of a wing sail (503) covered with photovoltaic cells and energy storage means (511) for utilizing at least solar energy and wind energy, a plurality of sensors (508, 514) for detecting predetermined environmental parameters and a communications system (509, 515) for transmitting data from said sensors (508, 515) to and for receiving command signals from one or more remote stations and/or cooperating vehicles.
SOLAR SAILOR PTY LTD.
Wing-sail system as seen in the patent
1. An unmanned ocean vehicle for operating either on or below the surface of a body of water, said vehicle comprising:
an enclosed hull having a payload bay; a hybrid propulsion system having energy collectors and energy stores utilising at least
a plurality of sensors for detecting predetermined environmental parameters; and
a communications system for transmitting data from said sensors about selected environmental parameters to, and for receiving command signals from, one or more remote stations;
wherein the hybrid propulsion system includes an electrical machine mechanically coupled to a fluid drive element, and wherein the electrical machine is supplied from the energy stores to drive the fluid drive element in a motor mode, and wherein the vehicle further includes ballast tanks for selective submerging and re-surfacing of the vehicle to facilitate selective operation on or below the water surface.
2. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 1 wherein the hull has an outer configuration having the general appearance of an aquatic animal.
3. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 1 wherein the hybrid propulsion system includes a wing sail having an aerofoil configuration for propelling the vehicle using wind energy and having solar energy collectors disposed on the surface of the wing sail.
4. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 3 wherein the wing sail may be lowered to a declined position along the hull of the vehicle to reduce drag whilst continuing to collect solar energy.
5. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 1 wherein the energy stores includes electrical storage cells coupled to solar energy collectors.
6. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 1 wherein the energy stores include rapid energy discharge devices to provide the vehicle with a short sprint capability.
7. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 6 wherein the rapid energy discharge devices comprise electrical capacitors.
8. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 6 wherein the rapid energy discharge devices comprise fluid accumulators.
9. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 1 wherein the payload bay is internally powered in order to carry electronic equipment supporting the environmental sensors for oceanographic or military use.
10. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 1 wherein the environmental sensors include sensors selected from the group including: anemometers, wind vanes, radars, radio frequency interceptors, optical band sensors, infrared band sensors, chemical/biological sensors, ocean current sensors, acoustic sensors, and bathymetric sensors.
11. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 1 wherein the communications system comprises a global positioning system (GPS) receiver, a LFB/SWB/marine band transceiver, a wide band transceiver, and a satellite transceiver, together with suitable antenna arrays.
12. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 11 wherein the antenna arrays include deployable antennae arrays, suited to towed operation when receiving signals ranging from extremely low frequency (ELF) band to super high frequency (SHF) band, capable of transmission and reception in these bands.
13. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 11 wherein the hybrid propulsion system includes a wing sail having an aerofoil configuration for propelling the vehicle using wind energy and having solar energy collectors disposed on the surface of the wing sail and wherein the antenna arrays are integrated into the wing sail or mounted on a stern portion of the enclosed hull.
14. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 1 wherein the vehicle is able to dive under the surface for prolonged periods using stored energy to avoid ships, storms or for stealth operations.
15. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 1 wherein the hybrid propulsion system further includes a fuel cell for emergency use.
16. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 1 wherein the hybrid energy propulsion system further utilises, in addition to wind energy, wave or water current energy, and solar energy, only renewable energy sources, including: temperature differential; and sea water activated batteries or fuel cells.
17. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 1 wherein the hybrid propulsion system includes an electrical machine coupled to a fluid drive element, wherein the electrical machine is driven by the drive element when the vehicle is propelled by wind acting on the hull and sails to charge the energy stores in a generator mode.
18. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 1 wherein the payload bay carries life-saving or fire-fighting equipment for search and rescue operations.
19. The unmanned ocean vehicle of claim 1 wherein the communications system is configured for transmitting and receiving command signals and data from one or more cooperating ocean vehicles.
An autonomous aquatic vehicle with one or more fuel cells, a controller, a plurality of sensors, a battery, and at least one electric motor and propeller. The one or more fuel cells provide power to the battery, and the battery provides power for the vehicle. Seawater is provided to anodes of the fuel cell and air or oxygen is provided to the cathode to produce power for supply to the battery. The seawater-anode reaction creates waste or byproduct that tends to decrease output of the fuel cell. The waste or byproduct is automatically flushed from the fuel cell using seawater.
1. A buoyant autonomous aquatic vehicle comprising:
Ii is a common misconception that there are four primary incentives embodied in the patent system:
1. the incentive to invent in the first place;
2. the incentive to disclose the invention once made;
3. the incentive to invest the sums necessary to experiment, to produce, and finally get the invention on the market;
4. and the incentive to design around and improve upon earlier patents.
1. Unfortunately patents do not provide incentives for economically efficient research and development (R&D) because of the high cost of the patent and the fact that many inventions are from individuals of limited means and not corporations with a large R&D budget. Many large modern corporations have annual R&D budgets of hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars leaving them to believe that they know all there is to know, and so are loath to enter into agreements with individuals who may have acquired patent rights - because they know that that know-how will soon be available to them free of charge and without any cost attaching. History shows us that individuals come up with most of the ground breaking ideas - not corporations. Invention is as the result of a lateral spark, not grinding research.
2. Without patents, R&D spending would be significantly less or eliminated altogether, but this would not stop technological advances or breakthroughs, because of the spark of lone inventors. The present patent system thus works to persuade corporations to maintain R&D budgets, and to give them a virtual monopoly on intellectual property and finance for developing that intellectual property. This second justification does not give inventors any real protection for their ideas, more, it tricks them into believing that they might benefit from patent protection, when in fact no such protection exists where a corporation can freely copy their work secure in the knowledge that the lone inventor cannot afford to litigate in the patent of trademark courts - and that if they were to try, the establishment - especially the trademark courts would wipe them out with costs awards left right and center, as clever corporate lawyers used the system to win by attrition. This is the real world. It has been designed by corporations for corporations and shareholders, with politicians simply going along for the ride - in some case to protect their investments in corporations.
The notion of disclosing innovations into the public domain for the common good, is counter productive to the aim of 'letters patent' to protect the ideas of the inventor. As described above an inventor does not have the legal protection of patents, because they do not have the wherewithal to litigate. For this reason it is better to keep their inventions secret, until governments wake up to the facts. The facts are that inventors need to eat and pay mortgages too. And that is why so many inventors end up bankrupt. The system is grossly unfair when compared to writers and artists who benefit free of charge from copyright.
3. In many industries (especially those with high fixed costs and either low marginal costs or low reverse engineering costs - computer processors, software, and pharmaceuticals being prototypical examples), once an invention exists, the cost of commercialization (testing, tooling up a factory, developing a market, etc.) is far more than the initial conception cost. (For example, the internal "rule of thumb" at several computer companies in the 1980s was that post-R&D costs were 7-to-1). Unless there is some way to prevent copies from competing at the marginal cost of production, companies will not make that productization investment. What this means is that by the time a product may be developed by a lone inventor, his or her patent will have expired. Again, what is the point of a patent that has no chance of providing the owner of those rights, any real prospect of benefiting from the invention. Here we come back to the unfairness of the patent system, where an artist, writer or film maker has no such limitations.
4. Patent rights do not create an incentive for companies to develop workarounds to patented inventions for all the reasons above. Products will be improved not because of any temporary state granted right, but because in order to sell their goods, companies must offer some incremental market advantage.
The small-time inventor cannot use the exclusive right status to become a licensor, because companies know they can outgun him or her financially. It is utter nonsense to suggest otherwise and anyone who does so is not speaking from real life experience.
Man-O-War illustration: Reflection on nature
The four cited incentives is not achieved by the patent system. The patent system has countervailing costs, and those costs fall more heavily in some contexts than others. There are many critics and criticisms of patents and this has resulted in the formation of a large number of groups who oppose patents in general, or specific types of patents, and who lobby for their abolishment.
One criticism is that a patent confers a "negative right" upon a patent owner, permitting them to exclude competitors from using or exploiting the invention, even if the competitor subsequently develops the same invention independently. This may be subsequent to the date of invention, or to the priority date, depending upon the relevant patent law. This argument must be viewed in the context of corporations effectively taking control of the patents that they should not have rights to.
Another criticism is that monopolies may create inefficiency. If the grant of a patent is the grant of a monopoly, the patent system may stifle competition and result in higher prices, lower quality, and shortages. In this context, patents are not socially optimal but are considered to be second best alternatives. The solution is to grant protection to small inventors, to include state funded legal assistance, provided that the inventor licenses his or her invention to all companies at a low rate - to encourage competition.
Another theoretical problem with patent rights was proposed by law professors Michael Heller and Rebecca Sue Eisenberg in a 1998 Science article. Building from Heller's theory of the tragedy of the anticommons, the professors postulated that intellectual property rights may become so widely fragmented that, effectively, no one can take advantage of them as to do so would require an agreement between the owners of all of the fragments.
Since at least the early 1980s, patent offices around the world have accepted that computer programs can lie within the realm of patentable subject matter, although the regulations for when a computer program is a patentable invention differ markedly between countries. It is argued that the resulting software patents inhibit innovation in contrast to the underlying purpose of patents.
In response to perceived problems with the grant of patents, and the evolving nature of technology and industry, there is on-going debate about, and reform of, patent systems around the world. The TRIPs agreement, developed by the WTO has led to the alignment of many patent systems with regard to certain controversial issues, such as what can be protected by patents and the issue of compulsory licences in cases of national need.
EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE
The European Patent Organisation is an intergovernmental organisation that was set up on 7 October 1977 on the basis of the European Patent Convention (EPC) signed in Munich in 1973. It has two bodies, the European Patent Office and the Administrative Council, which supervises the Office's activities. The Organisation currently has 32 member states.
The European Patent Office (EPO) provides a uniform application procedure for individual inventors and companies seeking patent protection in up to 37 European countries. It is the executive arm of the European Patent Organisation and is supervised by the Administrative Council .
Chairman / Deputy Chairman
UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE
For over 200 years, the basic role of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has remained the same: to promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to inventors the exclusive right to their respective discoveries (Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution). Under this system of protection, American industry has flourished. New products have been invented, new uses for old ones discovered, and employment opportunities created for millions of Americans. The strength and vitality of the U.S. economy depends directly on effective mechanisms that protect new ideas and investments in innovation and creativity. The continued demand for patents and trademarks underscores the ingenuity of American inventors and entrepreneurs. The USPTO is at the cutting edge of the Nation’s technological progress and achievement.
The USPTO is a federal agency in the Department of Commerce. The USPTO occupies five interconnected buildings in Alexandria, Virginia. The office employs over 7,000 full time staff to support its major functions--- the examination and issuance of patents and the examination and registration of trademarks.
The USPTO has evolved into a unique government agency. Since 1991--under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1990--the agency has been fully fee funded. The primary services the agency provides include processing patent and trademark applications and disseminating patent and trademark information.
Through the issuance of patents, the USPTO encourages technological advancement by providing incentives to invent, invest in, and disclose new technology worldwide. Through the registration of trademarks, the agency assists businesses in protecting their investments, promoting goods and services, and safeguarding consumers against confusion and deception in the marketplace. By disseminating both patent and trademark information, the USPTO promotes an understanding of intellectual property protection and facilitates the development and sharing of new technologies worldwide.
USPTO programs are conducted under the following principal statutory authorities:
ABOUT IP AUSTRALIA
Patents - Charter Service Level Commitments
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The Role of the Japan Patent Office
The aim of industrial property (IP) system (general term for patent, utility model, design, and trademark systems) is to contribute to the nation’s industrial development through adequate protection and effective utilization of inventions and other forms of intellectual creations. To help promote science and technology, the IP system is expected to play an increasingly important role in Japan in the 21st century.
The Japan Patent Office (JPO) consists of the General Affairs Department, the Examination Department, the Appeals Department, and other sections and departments. The main functions of these departments include; 1) granting adequate rights for patents, etc., 2) drafting plans for IP policies, 3) international exchange and cooperation, 4) review of the IP system, and 5) dissemination of information on IP. These functions provide for the positive advancement of industrial development.
1. Granting Exclusive Rights for Patents, Etc.
When the JPO receives an application from anywhere in the world, its examiners from the appropriate technical department must first conduct a strict examination of the filed documents from the viewpoint of technological and legal standards in order to determine whether exclusive patent or other rights can or cannot be granted.
2. Drafting Plans for Industrial Property Policies
In order to realize a “Nation Built on Intellectual Property” for the future, IP policies must be drafted and implemented to promote; 1) prompt examination of patents, 2) support in the use of IP by regions as well as small and mid-sized enterprises, 3) establishment of a “Japan brand”, 4) anti-counterfeit programs, and 5) create an environment which encourages the “Intellectual Creation Cycle” (the cycle of creation, protection, and exploitation).
3. International Exchange and Cooperation
To establish an IP environment aimed at an international harmonization, the JPO has been actively working on international activities. Specifically, it has been making collaborative efforts with the USPTO and EPO, extending assistance to developing nations in such areas as office computerization, examination processes, and human resources development, and implementing tougher anti-counterfeiting measures.
4. Review of the Industrial Property System
The JPO continues to review and revise related laws and examination standards based on plans drafted for IP policies, and on the results of international negotiations.
5. Dissemination of Information on Industrial Property
To satisfy diversified user needs, the JPO has been expanding IP information services. For example, improvements have been added to the Industrial Property Digital Library (IPDL) services to be provided over the Internet. We also started publishing DVD-ROM version official gazettes.
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The Solar Navigator MkVI - SWASSH (Small Waterplane Area Stabilized Single Hull) concept.
The latest Solarnavigator is designed to be capable of an autonomous world navigation set for an attempt
in 2015 if all goes according to schedule.
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