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Scarlett Johansson lookalike robot created by Hong Kong man in his flat

The robot, named 'Mark 1' took a year-and-a-half and over £34,000 to build

Doug Bolton
Monday 04 April 2016 15:16 BST
Ricky Ma and Mark 1 pose for a photo in his Hong Kong flat
Ricky Ma and Mark 1 pose for a photo in his Hong Kong flat (Bobby Yip/Reuters)

A Hong Kong man has built a robot version of Scarlett Johansson in his flat.

Ricky Ma, a 42-year-old designer, has poured more than £34,000 and over a year of work into the catchily-named 'Mark 1' humanoid robot.

Speaking to Reuters, Ma said he decided to model the Mark 1's appearance on a Hollywood star. He didn't say which, but it's fair to assume Scarlett Johansson may have given him a lot of inspiration.

The robot can move its limbs, alter its facial expressions, and even reply when spoken to by Ma through a microphone.

Mark 1 has a special talent for responding to compliments. When Ma tells it how beautiful it looks, it replies with a flattered "thank you" and gives a cheeky smile and a wink.

Mark 1 took a year-and-a-half of work and over £34,000 to create (Bobby Yip/Reuters)

It isn't the most sophisticated humanoid robot ever created, but his achievement is still hugely impressive.

Speaking about Mark 1's development, Ma said: "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."

The robot can be controlled entirely through voice commands (Bobby Yip/Reuters)

"When you look at everything together, it was really difficult."

All this work has paid off, but his journey was a lonely one - he knows of no other people in Hong Kong who share his hobby, and he faced constant criticism during Mark 1's development.

"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,'" he said.

Now, he hopes an investor will buy his prototype, so he can build more robots and refine his process. He's also thinking of writing a book to help other enthusiasts create their own.

The robot may seem strange now, but Mark 1's descendants could take your job one day. Increased automation is expected to significantly reduce job numbers in some industries in the near future, and a growing number of voices are calling for the introduction of a basic income to combat robot-induced unemployment.

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