Japan-based PLEN2 was one of the finalists in this year’s China Bang Awards, boasting a tiny, completely open source bipedal robot that can do everything from skateboarding to play soccer.

“When I was a kid, I really loved robot animations,” PLEN Project CEO and Founder Natsuo Akazawa says. Akazawa grew up and started working at a ski resort in Japan. The turning point of starting the robot company was when his father wanted to hand over a small factory for mechanics to his son.

“I didn’t want to own the factory, instead I wanted to start a business out of what I have loved since I was very young: robots. I wanted to make robot for kids,” he says.

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Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at evayoo@technode.com