News24

China's 'robot dad' aims high

2010-04-20 21:14

Shanghai - Wu Yulu, a 49 year old farmer from the outskirts of Beijing, has become a household name in China for his homemade robots. Now, the creations that he calls his children are about to gain international renown.

Made from scrap materials including wire and screws, Wu has invented over 47 robots which can pour tea, offer smokers a light and paint pictures.

Wu, who received no education after primary school, has become a hero in Chinese media for his whirring, ticking and talking inventions, and now foreign media have taken an interest in him ahead of his appearance at the Shanghai World Expo which runs from May to October.

"I am a little famous now," said Wu. "I have been doing this for over than 20 years but I feel that each year more people discover my inventions."

"At the Expo I can receive everyone's recognition. I am representative of all farmers, this is something very glorious."

Divorce

Wu said financing his automaton hobby was a huge burden on his family. Since he started building robots in 1986, Wu has burnt down his house and prompted his wife to threaten divorce after he spent all his money financing his tinkering passion.

Born into a family of farmers, Wu invented tools in his Mawu village to help farm more effectively such as changing his bicycle into a seeding machine. His latest project is a robot that can give massages.

"I want to make more useful robots to help humans, I've also designed a robot which can help chop the meat when cooking," he said.

His brightly coloured metal figures, with painted human features and clothes have already been shown in Japan, Korea and Hong Kong.

"It is possible I am able to visit the UK soon," Wu said, adding that no date has been fixed but it was in the pipeline.