Maker Faire Bay Area 2023


Home: California, United States

Robomobile looks like a giant version of 1960s-era tin toy robots, with a person inside pedaling an adult trike. It has lights, and can go anywhere and talk to anyone. Despite being boxy and simple, it looks friendly and kids delight in it. Everyone asks 'are you a real robot?' to which I answer yes. I built it out of steel and aluminum, foamcore and plywood, a licence plate holder and trailer lights. It's a hit at Halloween parties.

Robomobile - Maker Faire Bay Area

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Russell Wilcox

I'm a laser engineer with 12 patents, currently developing advanced lasers for science. I'm interested in science education and art, producing both public education displays (e.g. at Burning Man) and comics (at zine fests).

What Inspired You to Make This?

I read about how in the early Dr Who TV show, the Daleks (evil space robots) were moved by a person inside, pedaling a trike (with one front wheel). I enjoy riding recumbent trikes (with two front wheels, for better stability), so the idea of a pedal-powered robot costume appealed. Also, I like the design of the 1960s tin toy robots, which are geometrically simple but just recognizably human enough to seem friendly. Namely the Japanese toys 'Giant Sonic Robot' and 'Radical Robot' also known as 'Chief Robotman,' both of which I played with in childhood. These were based on the design of US-made toy 'Robert the Robot' from the 1950s, the original trapezoidal-box robot (who sometimes appears in the first Gumby episodes, e.g. 'Robot Rumpus'). Another impetus was to interact with people while hiding from them, presenting as something other than myself while enjoying their reactions. This would be different from just making a remote-controlled or intelligent robot and watching from afar. Maybe it's similar to some cosplay costumes in this regard.