Engineer toys with homemade robots

SUBANG JAYA: Toys they are not. Robots created from scrap metal, plastic and electronic components, are more than playthings to engineer Lourdes Mohan. 

Take, for example, his Robo-Explorer – a search-and-rescue device navigated by remote control.  

“The idea is to use this robot in areas inaccessible to humans and rescue dogs, such as landslide and earthquake disaster zones.  

“The robot has cameras as well as thermal and radioactive material detectors which can transmit information back to the navigator,” he said. It has a depth range of 2km, he said. 

INSPECTOR GADGET: Mohan navigating the Robo-Explorer, which he says can inspect landslideand earthquake disaster zones, in his yard by remote control.

Mohan, 45, has been toying with gadgets since he was four. 

“My father helped me build my first model train and encouraged me to play 'inventor',” he said, adding that it all started with Legos and building blocks.  

Mohan makes his robots from metal bits, plastic and “anything I can scavenge”. 

He has no design book and comes up with his own blueprints.  

Mohan takes several months to create his robots which, depending on their size, can cost between RM6,000 and RM30,000. 

Among his other creations are a palm-sized paperclip robot that walks, and a set of battery-operated figurines that are less than 3cm in height.  

He has also created an unmanned robot which he calls “creature” that is able to sense distances, pulses and heat.  

“I’m working on a system where its ‘eyes’ will be installed with cameras to record and transmit images,” said Mohan. 

He also said that he had always dreamt of starting a robotics school in Malaysia but had neither the time nor the funds for it just yet.  

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