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在线翻译:
szdaily -> People
Local maker builds robots to replace humans
     2015-May-22  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    TO ultimately replace humans in warehouses, Amazon is holding a competition this month to see who can produce an autonomous robot that can grab products off a shelf and stuff them in boxes. The machines are supposed to grab a variety of articles without breaking them.

    Although the winner only gets US$25,000, there is potentially a lot of prestige involved.

    Zhang Hao is busy making such a robot packer with his partner in a garage provided by Chaihuo Maker Space, which Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited this year, thrusting the community of makers into the spotlight.

    Zhang, 28, a graduate of the University of Electronic, Science and Technology of China in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, was the person who first translated “maker” to 创客 in Chinese. He said makers are a group of practitioners of DIY culture with special interests who focus on learning and using practical skills they can apply to designs.

    One local team is developing clothes with built-in turn signals that will let people know when and where a biker will turn by using conductive thread and sewable electronics. “Anyone can be a maker who strives to bring creative ideas into reality,” Zhang explained.

    Zhang started studying robotics while in university and once won the third prize in the Asia-Pacific Robot Contest in 2009. After graduation in 2010, he joined Guokr.com, a popular Chinese science and social networking service website, as an editor.

    On April Fool’s Day in 2011, Zhang made a perpetual motion machine based on strange pictures drawn by M.C. Escher, showing an apparent paradox where water from the base of a waterfall appears to run downhill along the water path before reaching the top of the waterfall.

    After releasing the video on Guokr.com, it immediately caused a stir in the global community of geeks and helped him win the MakerBot Challenge competition. “Having fun by making products by hand and seeing the infinite possibilities of technology are the ultimate pursuits of young geeks,” said Zhang.

    In 2011, Zhang co-founded Beijing Maker Space with the aim of developing it into a Chinese counterpart of Noisebridge, a renowned hackerspace based in San Francisco, the United States. In May 2012, Zhang visited the space and built a robot with spare components there.

    Currently, Zhang is the owner of Shenzhen Lan Pangzi Robotics Company. Lan Pangzi, which translates to “blue fat man,” refers to Doraemon, the beloved cartoon cat that has a pocket from which he produces gadgets, medicine and tools from the future.

    “In the future, you will probably have such a robot in your house,” said Zhang. Already a variety of robots has been developed for home cleaning and elderly care, but he said his dream is to build an omniscient robot for the home.

    Zhang has been working on an intelligent system that will enable robots to help owners arrange items in a specified order. Zhang says his motive behind his creation is selfish because he doesn’t have a good habit of picking up after himself. “In the beginning, I developed the robot for my own use, but I later realized that others could also benefit from the design,” said Zhang.

    “I used to make wooden planes and ships when I was a child, and my family was always very supportive,” said Zhang, who had to borrow money to found his robotics company last year with his partner Zhou Dandan, a software engineer.

    Zhou views Zhang as an idealist. “Usually, people of his age will consider issues of funding and profit before starting up a new business, but he just follows his heart in spite of all the uncertainties,” Zhou said. “He is an expert in hardware development and we are collaborating to build helpful robots for human beings,” he added.

    In March, Shenzhen Mayor Xu Qin told the People’s Daily in Beijing that the city wants to build an innovation center for global makers. In addition, a makers’ association is expected to be set up in the city. Zhang has complicated feelings about these plans.

    “The government and the media might have misunderstood the intention or spirit of makers after the word was translated into 创客, which is similar to 创业 (start-up). The vast majority of them are not entrepreneurs, but hobbyists. Only a few of them will turn their ideas into businesses,” said Zhang.

    On the other hand, Zhang admitted that such platforms could be useful. “They could inspire people to reflect the existing education system in China, which ignores developing problem-solving skills among students,” said Zhang.

    In addition, the popularity of maker culture in China can also encourage people to develop their interests in their spare time. “It can offer a chance to explore more,” said Zhang.

    (Luo Songsong)

    “Having fun by making products by hand and seeing the infinite possibilities of technology are the ultimate pursuits of young geeks.”

    Zhang Hao

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