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September 19, 2018

AROK the Robot by Ben Skora, ca. 1970s

AROK a 6 ft. 8 in. and 275 lbs robot is a man of steel can lift 125 lbs. dead weight, bend 45° at the waist and move forward or backward at a top speed of 3 m.p.h.

The creation by Ben Skora, of Palos Hills, who is now in an assisted-living facility. AROK (Skora’s named spelled backwards without the S), when operational, could perform a variety of tasks such as vacuuming, mixing drinks, talking, taking photos, lifting up to 150 pounds, and walking the dog. It also could bend at the waist to a 45-degree angle and turn the upper torso to the right and left. He could “motor” along at a brisk 3 mph.

Skora spent from 1969 to 1975 creating AROK using common, everyday parts. Inside the aluminum exterior, the robot has two 12-volt automobile batteries, 15 electronic motors, 35 relays, and hundreds of solid-state integrated circuits. He has a motorcycle helmet for a skull, a clothes-dryer exhaust hose for arms and rubber gloves for hands. There is a microphone in his control panel and a speaker in his head. It can be controlled by a TV remote using FM radio signals. One of the two 12-volt car batteries supplies power to operate AROK and the other to drive the motors. The batteries are placed on platforms in the feet and the drive mechanism in the base.

Skora is a renowned inventor and electronic genius—self-taught and a former owner of a recording studio. He often worked with spare parts obtained from junk yards and discarded by others. His former home in Palos Hills was an electronic fantasy with an electronic door that opened like the iris of an eye, revolving living room, and lights and waterfalls that were controlled remotely. His home included many creations, including a drivable motorized easy chair, a soap dispenser that was a retractable hand that came out of the wall on demand, dressers that slid away to reveal a hallway, and a ski slope to the roof.

Ben Skora has appeared in People, Cosmopolitan, and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. AROK is not his only invention; he created a remote control Ferrari. AROK also became quite the TV celebrity appearing on the “Merv Griffin Show,” “Phil Donahue” and locally on the “Bozo” program on WGN-TV.

(via Moraine Valley Community College)



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