You have to admire the irrepressible spirit of China’s amateur inventors.
Two years ago we wrote about Wu Yulu, a former farmer with a passion for goose-stepping robots. Wu’s reputation spread and he ended up exhibiting his work at the Shanghai Expo (WiC59).
Now it is Zhang Wuyi, a 37 year-old laid-off garment worker from Wuhan, who is in the news – this time for making submarines, the Wuhan Evening News reports.
Zhang works out of a dingy, 1980s-era workshop with a team of 10 others, the newspaper reports. He says the design is all pretty simple, and mostly a question of building a solid hull with a valve system to allow water to enter and exit the craft, ensuring that the sub can submerge and surface.
Add a functioning steering mechanism and fins, and his craft is – more or less – ready for launch.
His submarines are now being sold for about Rmb200,000 ($31,600), with customers putting up deposits of Rmb20,000 and paying the balance on delivery.
According to Zhang’s first customer, fisheries entrepreneur Cong Zhijie from Dalian, the submarine operates well. Zhang claims he has three other customers lined up and has received more than a hundred further enquiries.
Unfortunately, larger-scale production looks like being a challenge. Zhang complains that he is struggling to find investors to back his fledgling business because China lacks technical standards for private submarine manufacturers. It also means that – in his sales contracts – the final product has to be described as a “Seabed Collection Machine”.
Undeterred, Zhang thinks the business can work. He says seafood entrepreneurs are potential customers, with reservoir and dam operators also expressing interest.
Another Zhang – this one Zhang Ming – is aiming for the sky rather than the depths with his own homemade design, a car which comes with collapsable wings.
The latest of several amateur aircraft manufacturers to likewise make the news, Zhang Ming recently took to the roads in Sichuan to try to get airborne.
Unfortunately his design didn’t take off as hoped, despite vocal encouragement from a large crowd, the West China City Daily reports.
“The plane only moved at 10 miles an hour,” Zhang said. “It’s clear that the engine is not powerful enough.” Citing safety concerns, police then stepped in to stop the test flight.
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