In 1989 while still living in Nashville, founder Russ Martin built robots in his spare time. He designed a "Smart Robot" that could turn left and make a right turn through voice command and he convinced the Cumberland Science Museum to buy it. Next, he moved to Florida with his fiancée Fay, and while on a trip to New Smyrna Beach he dreamed up a six wheel drive, drink-serving robot which he built in two weeks. It would roll along the sand and serve cold beer or soda out of a cooler housed in its base, and cold beverages out of an automated dispenser in its arm, similar to a soda machine you’d find in a commercial restaurant. It was a hit, and a local carpet cleaning company owner bought it right out of the Martins hall closet!
Russ continued with his unique inventions, designing a letter-making bubble machine, which he took to local businessman Brett Kingstone. Brett liked the robot idea better though, and ended up buying a life-size robotic Pepsi can instead.
Fay quickly came on board, bringing her contagious energy, persistence and enthusiasm and a strong sales skill set from her career in the corporate world to join Russ in building the young company and Florida Robotics was born! Took only a week (and LOTS of phone calls) for Fay to secure their first client, Florida Hospital. They promptly hired "JR the Robot" (pictured with the interchangeable pumpkin head and Russ) aptly named after the Martin's oldest son Joshua Russell, then just a mere six months old, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their Neo-Natal Unit. Jesse came along a few years later, to help test the durability of the Bots by jumping on them... when asked of course, and to keep Mom good company in the office!
The first outright sale was to Walt Disney World's Resort Design Dept., who wanted to bring their Smart 1 Robot to life (pictured with Fay) going from a static model to a roving, rolling, talking, birthday cake / drink serving Robot named X1846 (the # to dial when ordering room service). This lovable Robot was created to enhance the futuristic re-design of the Contemporary Hotels second floor restaurant.
Fay and Russ continue to work together to design innovative, entertainment and promotional robots to this day!
In 2016, Fay took sole ownership of Florida Robotics, while Russ started Island Robots of Florida (IROF). Now over 25 years and hundreds of robots later, the two companies have partnered, combining their talents to bring a dynamic brand of interactive robotics to businesses of all kinds. You'll find them creating fun in 32 countries worldwide!