DIY submarine inventor working on remote-controlled version

A laid-off Chinese factory worker who won notoriety in 2012 for a self-built mini-submarine has had to backtrack on plans for commercial production of his original creation, but he is instead developing an unmanned remote-controlled version.

41-year-old Zhang Wuyi had to dive for an alternative after being denied licenses and certificates for his first sub.

He has been burning the midnight oil to teach himself programming, running the mostly English-language manuals he needs to read through translation software on his computer.

Zhang used to work in a textile machinery factory in central China's Hubei Province, but got interested in making civilian submarines after he was made redundant in 2008. He has encountered many obstacles along the way, and has been taunted by the public for his strange low-tech creation.

Having poured most of his life savings into his project, Zhang has now found a spot in a “makerspace,” a tech business park benefitting from favorable government policies, in Hubei’s capital Wuhan. Though some of the makerspace’s young inhabitants don’t understand their new 40-something neighbor, Zhang is looking forward to moving his workshop out from his basement.

This could finally be his chance to emerge from the murky depths of amateur inventing into the light of public acclaim.