China's mission to moon inspires sale of DIY moon buggies on Taobao

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 December, 2013, 4:55pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 December, 2013, 6:23pm

As excitement over China’s so far successful first lunar probe mission spreads across the country, a DIY moon buggy has been listed on Taobao, China’s ebay-like online mall, for the price of 2,250 yuan (HK$2,866) or about one fifteenth of the price of a cheap car.

“No matter if you are a female artist, a man of literature, a nerdy, tech-geek homeboy, or even a primary school student, you just need to try, anyone can make it”, reads the seller’s pitch. More than 40 people have viewed the item but none have yet been sold.

The seller, a 25 year old man named Mo Wei, claims the six-wheeled rover can handle all terrain, including off-road and cross-country. Each wheel is propelled by its own electronics. Solar panels can be added for terrestrial use.

“I have years of technical and mechanical experience and have previously participated in a famous university moon rover project, I have a deep understanding of a moon rover’s all-terrain design and have completely reproduced the Jade Rabbit in style and structure. As you build the moon rover yourself you can learn about the technology in a relaxed way”, boasts the product description.

The DIY rover, made by Beijing-based Mo, is named Yutu (Jade Rabbit), the same name as the real life rover that is planned to land on the moon next weekend. Mo works in mechanic and electronic research and development. He built his Yutu with three colleagues over three days.

“We spent a lot of time researching the machinery and structure and believe we have replicated it completely. Not to brag but this rover could be enlarged and remodelled to be a very powerful off-road vehicle”, said Mo.

Next, Mo said they plan to make an oil-powered, robot pet dog that can run faster than the US Army’s robotic cheetah. The US cheetah is a four legged robot capable of reaching 45.5 kilometres per hour, faster than Usain Bolt’s record speed in the 100 metre sprint.

Mo has a positive rating on TaoBao. He has 12 other mechanical and robotic products for sale including an imitation Segway, listed for 1,550 yuan. None of his products have been purchased.

It is another demonstration of a lunar fever that has gripped China as it launched the country’s first lunar probe on Monday. More than three million people voted in an online poll to choose the moon rover’s name after a 14-member jury chose 10 possible names from 190,000 proposals, according to Xinhua.

On Wednesday, China’s cultural exchange association for national defence science, technology and industry began to sell government-sanctioned replicas of the Jade Rabbit made of zinc alloy and silver, Xinhua reports.