A humanoid obsessive has built an incredibly realistic female robot from scratch – and it’s got more than a passing resemblance to Avengers star Scarlett Johansson.
Ricky Ma, a 42-year-old product and graphic designer, has spent more than $50,000 (£34,000) and a year and a half creating the female robot prototype, Mark 1.
The designer confirmed the scarily lifelike humanoid had been modelled on a Hollywood star, but wanted to keep her name under wraps.
It responds to a set of programmed verbal commands spoken into a microphone and has moving facial expressions, but Ricky says creating it wasn’t easy.
He said he was not aware of anyone else in Hong Kong building humanoid robots as a hobby and that few in the city understood his ambition.
Ricky said: “When I was a child, I liked robots. Why? Because I liked watching animation. All children loved it. There were Transformers, cartoons about robots fighting each other and games about robots.
“After I grew up, I wanted to make one. But during this process, a lot of people would say things like, ‘Are you stupid? This takes a lot of money. Do you even know how to do it? It’s really hard’.”
Besides movements of its arms and legs, turning its head and bowing, Ma’s robot, with blonde hair and hazel eyes can form detailed facial expressions.
Ricky has dressed ‘her’ in a crop top and a grey skirt.
In response to the compliment, “Mark 1, you are so beautiful”, the robot bows as the ‘muscles’ around its eyes relax and corners of its lips lift, forming a smile.
It then replies: “Hehe, thank you.”
A 3D-printed skeleton lies beneath Mark 1’s silicone skin, covering its mechanical and electronic interior.
About 70% of its body was created using 3D printing technology.
Creating the robot, Ma adopted a trial-and-error method in which he encountered obstacles ranging from burned-out motors to the robot losing its balance.
“When I started building it, I realised it would involve dynamics, electromechanics and programming. I have never studied programming, how was I supposed to code?
“Additionally, I needed to build 3D models for all the parts inside the robot. Also, I had to make sure the robot’s external skin and its internal parts could fit together. When you look at everything together, it was really difficult,” said Ma.
But with Mark 1 standing behind him, Ma said he had no regrets.
“I figured I should just do it when the timing is right and realise my dream. If I realise my dream, I will have no regrets in life,” he said.
Ma, who believes the importance of robots will grow, hopes an investor will buy his prototype, giving him the capital to build more.
He wants to write a book about his experience to help other enthusiasts.
The rise of robots is among disruptive labour market changes that the World Economic Forum warns will lead to a net loss of 5.1 million jobs over the next five years.