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My Story: A Light-Bulb Moment

By Fay Martin

After seeing a medical robot on TV, Russ Martin, founder of Florida Robotics, had a light-bulb moment. Seeing the robot interact with a patient, Russ was reminded of a favorite childhood board game: Operation. A self-taught robotics guy, it was a natural progression for Russ to invent the OpBot.

OpBot is an 8-foot tall recreation of the classic 60s board game, complete with red light-up nose and loud "buzz" sound when the "surgery" doesn't go smoothly. Using mostly Jameco parts, Russ substituted the tweezers with a 6-foot long robotic arm controlled by a wireless joystick mounted on a podium to perform the required "surgeries."

Russ' philosophy relies heavily upon imagination, not adhering to popular technical and social protocol. Because Florida Robotics routinely employs the use of off-the-shelf products and components readily available from Jameco, building OpBot was fairly simple but there were some challenges.

OpBotOpBot


The OpBot in action.

The primary challenge was developing a robotic arm that was light and nimble enough to perform "surgeries" at an angle, while also being dynamic enough to move quickly from head to feet. Programming challenges also came up while trying to improve the robotic arm's aim.

At a time when everyone has the ability to play sophisticated simulation games on their smartphones, Russ wanted to give people the opportunity to see and operate an actual mechanical robot with gears whining and motors buzzing. Since its debut in November, the OpBot has been amazing and entertaining adults and children alike at medical and hi-tech trade shows, as well as special events. OpBot has also drawn the attention of international science centers in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Czechoslovakia and the Netherlands.

To learn more about the OpBot, click here.


Fay Martin founded Florida Robotics 20 years ago with Russ Martin, her husband, as a business that focuses on using technology to create fun. Most of their products are mobile, interactive entertainment robots, and many use Jameco parts to come to life.