A video shot by Kompas TV shows a man in Bali with a “robot arm” who can supposedly control the mechanism with his brain while he works as a welder.
The report touts “poor” Karangasem man I Wayan Sumardana, alias Sutawan/Tawan as Indonesia’s Iron Man. It claims that in just six months after he had a stroke that rendered his left arm paralyzed, he was able to create the robotic arm from scrap metal and somehow hook it up to his brain. And now he purportedly has the control and functionality of the arm that will let him continue his work as a welder so he can feed his family.
Granted, reports say he did study engineering at a high school, but this kind of invention may seem so unbelievable for a reason.
Not only has Sumardana’s story been broadcasted on Kompas, but it’s been covered and unquestioningly reported as fact on national media sources across the board, including Tribun News, Merdeka, Tempo, Republika, Harian, and not to mention loads of shares on social media.
While his story is certainly a compelling one and has all the key makings of a great superhero story—a modest protagonist from humble beginnings overcoming an injury with resourceful problem-solving—better we wait for a stronger confirmation that this science is real from experts more qualified than the Indonesian media.
This is no simple scientific and engineering feat being lauded here and we’d love for it to be true, but remember, even the amazing Tony Stark is a fictional character.