Cape Flats man makes robots from scrap

2018-11-24 08:35
Hoosain Dixon assembles his robots using only hand tools. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

Hoosain Dixon assembles his robots using only hand tools. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

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Bridgetown's "Robot Man" sits at a little table outside his home, which is filled with pieces of scrap from a nearby dump site.

Not very far from where he sits is his latest creation, Robot 5, or R5, which took about two months to build, GroundUp reports.

Made from items like a child's shoes straps, a piece of rubber, an empty lipstick container and parts of a car door, R5 stands tall. It has lights in its eyes and on its chest.

Using his hands to build things has always been a passion, says 49-year-old Hoosain Dixon.

"I have been good with my hands since I was a young boy of eight. I would fix old toys, and even put together old broken dolls. You see the field over there? That is where I get my scrap. Every single thing I used for the R5 I got at the dumping site. Even the 350 screws I used to put him together, I got at the dumping site," says Dixon.

A father of three daughters, Dixon worked for 25 years in the hospitality industry but was laid off. He says he is currently unemployed and builds robots to keep him busy and make some money to support his family.

He said his dream would be to see his work in shows or exhibitions and to be able to give his robots some sort of movement, in the arms, legs or body.

READ: 'Hi, I'm Pepper' - first humanoid robot in SA gently introduces herself

"As you can see, I have connected wiring to this robot which is why these tiny light bulbs work, but I am yet to connect something to make it move."

There are small lights on Robot 5. (Ashraf Hendric

There are small lights on Robot 5. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)


Three or four times a week he walks around pushing R5 in a trolley around Bridgetown, Athlone and sometimes as far Mowbray.

He says people come up to him and ask him about R5. But last year he was almost arrested wheeling a robot in a wheelbarrow at night. Police thought he was transporting a dead body.

He sometimes stands at shopping malls with the robot and charges people a fee of R5 or R10 to take photographs of themselves with it. He has already managed to sell two robots.

READ MORE: Will a robot be doing your job by 2030?

"There is a lot of crime here in this area by youngsters who are unemployed. I want them to see that you can do things to keep yourself busy that do not involve crime," Dixon said.

Robot 5 greets visitors to Hoosain Dixon’s yard. P

Robot 5 greets visitors to Hoosain Dixon’s yard. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)


Read more on:    cape town  |  technology

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