'This guy living in 3022': Man buys zi char and runs errands using remote control car

TikTok user Steve Ho modified his remote-controlled car so that he could send it out to purchase food.
PHOTO: TikTok/Steve Ho

Although ordering food delivery is just a few clicks away these days, one man here decided to take things up a notch with his clever set-up.

Steve Ho took to TikTok to show off his invention on July 23, where he sent his remote-controlled car out on an errand to procure his dinner. 

Equipping his car with a camera, the 35-year-old was able to record the car's journey from his house to the coffee shop. 

https://www.tiktok.com/@puangster/video/7123202287702428930?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1

The two-minute video showed the car arriving at the coffee shop, catching the attention of a stall assistant who asked: "Is this to collect delivery?" 

Communicating through a speaker attached to the remote-controlled car, Ho said to a female stall assistant in Mandarin: "Pretty lady, I'd like to order a salted egg pork rib rice." 

"Where's the money?" another staff asked in Mandarin, to which Ho replied: "It's in my box." 

As Ho's order was in the kitchen, some of the coffee shop staff took the opportunity to interact with the remote-controlled car by waving at the camera and taking pictures of it. 

One of them even gamely helped to redirect the car when it was stuck while trying to do a U-turn after Ho's order was loaded onto the box.

"I accidentally switched to high torque mode, that's why [it] collided," Ho explained in a comment. 

Replying to other users, Ho shared that he still has to go to the lift lobby to send the car down and to bring it back up. 

Speaking to AsiaOne, Ho said that he decided to use the remote-controlled car to run his errands due to the recent surge of Covid-19 cases. 

"I am mitigating my plans of traveling out especially [to] public places where the crowds are," he said. 

He shared that the use of remote-controlled cars to run errands are rather popular in China. 

When asked about how long it took for him to create a workable prototype, Ho said it took him "a couple of months" as the parts from China took some time to reach him.

He declined to reveal how much he spent on this set-up.

In fact, the zi char run wasn't the car's first mission.

Ho had actually first sent the car out to a nearby supermarket to buy some late-night snacks — which he documented in a TikTok video posted July 15. 

https://www.tiktok.com/@puangster/video/7120321802705915138?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1

The four-minute video also showed some of the difficulties the car encountered, such as not being able to reach the traffic light button. 

Upon reaching the supermarket, it took quite some time before Ho was able to get the attention of the staff. 

"Hello, any Giant staff around? I want to buy something," Ho repeated. 

When he finally caught the attention of a male staff, Ho introduced himself to the bewildered man: "Hello, I am the remote-controlled car in front. I want to buy something. Can you help me?" 

"What is this thing? I don't know what he's saying," the staff could be heard remarking to his colleague. 

After some repeating, Ho finally told the staff what he wanted: a bottle of chilled Coca-Cola and an ice cream. 

To pay for his snacks, Ho told the staff to take a $10 note inside the basket attached to the car. 

At the time of writing, Ho's video has garnered over 103,700 views and more than 400 comments from netizens who praised him for his ingenuity. 

"This guy living in 3022," one user wrote, while another suggested that Ho leave a note inside the basket with his order to make things easier for the staff.

PHOTO: Screengrab/TikTok

Marvelling at his creation aside, there were also others who brought up some safety concerns, citing the possibility that someone might hijack the car. 

However, these remarks didn't seem to faze Ho. "I am confident of the security here in Singapore," he said. 

"If it does happen, there's a GPS tracker and live recording of the camera footage for me to [locate the car]. If the person [resorts] to stealing food, so be it. He or she must really be in a challenging and difficult situation." 

On a similar note, a woman in China also made use of a similar contraption to buy steamed buns while quarantined at home back in February 2020. 

The woman, surnamed Chen, told South China Morning Post then that the idea came about when she realised that she had run out of steamed buns.

"My husband refused to go out, so I came up with the idea of using my remote-controlled car instead," she said. 

Chen, a remote-controlled car enthusiast, said she modified the car's remote control herself. Although she was planning to use it to get her daily necessities, she was forced to stop after her invention attracted too much attention from members of the public. 

Over in Singapore, a pilot programme using a drone to deliver food to people on Singapore's Southern Islands was launched in March this year

The programme, organised by Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) in collaboration with ST Engineering and Foodpanda, ran from Mar 22 to April 9.

ALSO READ: In Indonesia, drone deliveries provide lifeline for isolating Covid-19 patients

claudiatan@asiaone.com