This CNN Hero upcycles old computers to open new worlds for young Kenyans
One hundred and fifty people gathered for a rare presentation on how to build robots out of old machines in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday, and one man played the biggest role of all.
The world’s only robotic firefighter-inventor, who is also a robot builder in his own time, Kenji Uchida, has spent the past year teaching people how his robots can do many different things—from cutting grass with his mower blades to breaking things using just their arms.
He’s also turned one of his machines into a robot firefighter-inventor, a task to which it has been assigned by the United Nations.
“He basically created this firehouse-like structure that’s very safe, very easy to operate, and has a lot of functional uses,” Uchida said.
As of Tuesday, January 27, The New York Times reported, the robot-firefighter was at work at the United Nations in New York.
“We’ll make all the people safe and all the things safe,” Uchida said.
Uchida will give the United Nations the first firehouse-like robot it has ever seen.
Since the robot firefighter Uchida is inventing is a bit different from the ones he has already built, people who will help with the mission are a bit concerned that he’s going to forget his old way of teaching.
“It’s important that he has backup, especially when he goes to the United Nations, because he has to use another source of electricity than his mower,” said John Kibii, senior information-and-communication technologist at the Kenyan government.
In the year and a half Uchida’s machine has been on the job, it has made some 180,000 trips to its firehouse-like structure.
“It’s been fantastic,” Uchida said. “We had a lot of kids from this neighborhood come and watch us with their own kids.”
Uchida has found that building the robot firefighter out of his old PCs and other machine parts has made him more confident than ever