Chinese inventor Su Daocheng drives his robotic horse through the streets of Shiyan in Hubei
Chinese inventor Su Daocheng drives his robotic horse through the streets of Shiyan in HubeiYouTube

A Chinese retiree obsessed with machinery and contraptions has completed his latest challenge – building a large robotic horse that can be ridden in the street.

Su Daocheng is a retiree in his 60s who lives in Shiyan, a farming town in China's eastern Hubei province.

His robot horse, which stands 1.5m tall and 2m long, weights 250kg and was made using a racing kart engine, according to Chinese news site Zhong Guo Wang Shi.

Running on petrol, two spring-loaded back legs move back and forth to propel the robot forwards, whilst the front is supposed by wheels, with front legs that are just for show.

A seat is perched above the engine, and the driver can direct the mechanical horse using a steering wheel.

Su's invention is inspired by the "wooden ox and gliding horse" transportation device invented by Zhuge Liang (181–234) AD, the chancellor of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period who was a scholar and inventor.

There is some confusion as to what this ancient device was used for - one school of thought is that the wooden ox and gliding horse transportation device was invented to protect soldiers during combat when they were attacking a city wall. Driven by one person, it could accommodate up to 10 soldiers at a time.

The ancient
A replica of the ancient "wooden ox and gliding horse" contraption, if it was a wheelbarrow, at the Ancient Chariot Museum in Zibo, ChinaUnderbar dk, Wikimedia commons

Another idea is that the horse was used to transport grain and might have been an early version of the wheelbarrow.

Zhuge is also credited with inventing mantou (a type of steamed bread), the landmine and a version of the repeating crossbow.

This is not the first mechanical animal that Su has created – he has previously won an award at Design Shanghai for his gasoline-powered mechanical elephant that could replace cattle to plough fields.

Back in 2005, Su also invented a helicopter that could be used as a car as well as a flying vehicle, but this invention failed.