A 5m-long life-like robotic tanystropheus, a reptile from the Middle Triassic period, made its world debut at a Taipei pool on Saturday in an event that was aimed at promoting environmental protection, specifically of marine habitats.
The prehistoric reptile, distinguished by its extremely elongated neck, astonished onlookers as it swam in the city’s Youth Park swimming pool.
The robot is the world’s first ridable reptile made from recyclable waste, such as PET bottles, Styrofoam, life vests and swimming suits, said a spokesman for Taipei-based C&S Creation, which organized the show.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), who previously served as head of the Environmental Protection Administration, praised the robot’s “green” credentials and the dedication that its creator, Japanese marine ecologist Masamichi Hayashi, has for protecting the seas.
Hayashi, who was invited to Taiwan to teach students how to make life-like robotic fish, began creating mechanical sea life more than a decade ago after he was diagnosed with lung cancer, Hau said as he introduced the Japanese scientist at the exhibition.
The illness forced Hayashi to quit scuba diving, his favorite hobby, and as he underwent treatment, he realized that other patients like him had little opportunity to get close to the ocean.
The thought inspired him to make fish robots that sick people who could not get close to the sea could play with to allow them to experience the wonders of the ocean, the mayor said.
Apart from the Triassic reptile, Hayashi also displayed a robotic shark, whale, manatee and sea turtle at the show, urging people to cherish marine life.
All of his “fish bots” weigh the same as their real-life counterparts, he previously told media in Japan.
“I want children to know the weight of life,” Hayashi said at the time. “But what I want the most is to enable sick children and elderly people to enjoy marine life and have fun in the