A group of Vietnamese students led by a 30-year-old programmer in Hanoi has designed and built a massive robot using plastic waste from old motorbikes in order to highlight the importance of environmental consciousness.
“Robot One,” a massive 100 kilogram, three meter tall robot, was built as part of a six-month long initiative by Robot Bank – an engineering collective headed by programmer Luu Tuan Khanh – to cast a spotlight on Vietnam’s motorbike waste problem.
While Robot One’s outer shell is made from recycled plastic salvaged from old motorbikes and cars, the skeleton is composed of a hard metal and a series of computer chips and electrical circuits which control its actions.
“We chose old motorbikes to be our main source of material because in Vietnam a lot of people drive them, but every day repair shops throw away many rubber tires and plastic parts,” the project head Khanh said, adding that “many people replace their motorbikes right after a minor accident and the plastic from these vehicles is usually not recycled.”
Car headlights were installed into Robot One’s chest and the motorbike wheels it uses for feet allow it relatively free movement.
The robot is also capable of moving its hands and hips, as well as producing different audio and visual effects.
“Hello everyone, I am Robot One. I am from Vietnam,” the robot is able to say.
“I was designed and assembled by Robot Bank. I am the first version to be assembled with recycled material.”
According to Khanh, the inspiration behind building Robot One from recycled parts stemmed from concerns that the current widespread practice in Vietnam of burning old motorbike parts is devastating to the environment.
Khanh said the most difficult aspect of designing Robot One was sifting through dumpster-bound materials at dozens of motorbike repair outlets across Hanoi.
Inexperienced but passionate
Khanh, head of the Robot Bank project, was hired by a Japanese robotics company in 2016 but decided to give up the job after just a few months in order to establish a small robotics workshop near the Hanoi University of Science and Technology.
Also moonlighting as a professor at the university, Khanh was able to pull together a team of seven passionate students to join Robot Bank.
|Luu Tuan Khanh (left) with one of his Robot Bank teammates. Photo: Ha Thanh / Tuoi Tre|
While the students were all supportive of Khanh’s idea, outside investors were not so keen and Khanh and his student-partners wound up paying out of pocket to support the project.
While the group’s experience covers programming and electrical engineering, there is, admittedly, a lack of robot manufacturing expertise.
Even so, Khanh and his crew claim their passion more than makes up for their inexperience.
“Before Robot One was completed, we designed and assembled a robot made from wood but it was pretty ugly and didn’t live up to our expectations,” Khanh said.
Currently Robot Bank is assembling a second robot, also made of recycled motorbikes and cars’ plastic parts.
According to Khanh, the group has already received an offer from an investor which will allow them access to the resources they need to produce a smarter, more functional machine.
Here are some of the photos of Robot One: