Growing up on a farm in a rural village on the outskirts of Beijing, Wu Yulu always knew he would follow in his family's footsteps even though he had developed a keen interest in gadgets and machinery. And he did just that in the 1970s, dropping out of school after completing fifth grade to help out with the family business.
But his interest in gadgets never waned, and he often spent most of his 1,000 yuan salary on scrap metal and electronics. In 1986, after a decade of trial and error (including an incident in which he set his house on fire), he built his first functional robot, made of discarded electronic junk.
His hobby was often sneered at by his family. So Wu came up with a solution: he created a robot that could help on the farm. After a couple of years of obsessive work, he unveiled a life-sized, multi-legged robot that could pull a rickshaw.
After that, it was smooth sailing for Wu, who went on to create 45 more robots, attract media attention, and had the honour of displaying his robots at the World Expo in Shanghai last year.
Now 50, Wu has brought three of his robots to Maritime Square in Tsing Yi as part of the shopping mall's Lunar New Year festivities.
'It's my first time in Hong Kong, so I'm very excited,' said Wu (pictured).
Two of the three robots on display at the mall from Saturday to February 17 are his rickshaw robots, but it's the third robot that will be the most popular with Hongkongers - one that gives massages.
Wu said he hoped to create a new batch of robots that can help in hospitals.