Macau's own King Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2006, 12:00am

Form Six students Wakkar Chan Chi-hong and Roy Lao U-lon drew inspiration from the movie King Kong to design a prize-winning dancing chimp.

Their invention, controlled by a computer programme they wrote themselves, recently won second prize in this year's Macau Youth Robot Contest.

The agile chimp can kick, wave, kneel and even somersault, all to the rhythm of Aqua's Tarzan and Jane, but the imaginative duo from Pui Va Secondary School say that too much creativity cost them the first prize.

'We aimed for very difficult moves, such as lying down and then getting it back on its feet,' said Wakkar. 'The champion robot did simple moves with greater stability.'

Even so, they don't regret trying to be creative.

'All the other contestants made naked robots, but we wanted to build a livelier one,' said Wakkar proudly.

'I was influenced by the movie King Kong, which showed the sentimental side of a gorilla.'

The friends spent a whole month building the robot and developing the computer programme that is its 'brain'.

It was a challenging task, as each of the chimp's moves had to be calculated based on mechanics.

The talented duo have made some other prize-winning robots over the past few years, including a dancing penguin, a garbage-sorting robot, a swimming pool cleaner and a few soccer players. Roy says their latest challenge provided another intriguing opportunity to tackle mechanical puzzles.

Wakkar agrees: 'Every product, which is built little by little, gives me a great sense of fulfillment in the end. It's also cool to be able to find many like-minded friends in robot contests.'

There are many robot enthusiasts at Pui Va School, where computer-related learning is very popular.

'We organise various inter-class contests such as [robot] water polo, [robot] underwater steeplechase, and [robot] tug of war,' said computer teacher Chao Iong-wa. 'And we have many extracurricular classes devoted to computer learning.'

The school has also launched a Form Four information technology class with an investment of 900,000 patacas a year.

'Many of our graduates are able to apply their computer skills to work or further studies,' said Mr Chao.

Thanks to their excellent computer skills, Wakkar and Roy have already been offered exam-free admission to Jinan University in Guangzhou. Wakkar will study electronic information engineering and Roy computer science.