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Chasing Robotic Dreams: A Journey to New York with Drago and Yo-ree (part1)

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Embark on an Incredible Journey with Yo-ree


In 2019, I set forth on an audacious adventure with Yo-ree, my groundbreaking creation, determined to unveil its remarkable capabilities to the world. Yo-ree Robot, born from a decade-long labor of love, redefines the boundaries of robotics, seamlessly blending human-like traits with an endearing, almost childlike appearance.

 

Witness the Rise of Innovations

Recipient of esteemed accolades like the CITI Product of the Year award and finalist in renowned competitions like the Innobis Digital Challenge and the Innovation Awards LATAM, Yo-ree and its counterpart, Drago, have captivated audiences worldwide. Featured on prestigious platforms like CNN and Univision, these robots are not mere machines; they are symbols of innovation and perseverance.

 

Unveiling the Dream

Despite early setbacks and doubts, my journey to robotics was inevitable. Fueled by a passion for tinkering and a childhood fascination with flying machines, I transitioned from a business and marketing background to pursue my true calling. Today, with over 40 robots under my belt and eight giant robotic museums established, I stand on the brink of a new chapter.

 

A Journey to New York

My ultimate destination? New York City, the epicenter of innovation and opportunity. Armed with Yo-ree and a vision, I sought to introduce my creations to potential investors and partners, eager to propel them to new heights. Little did I know, the journey ahead would be filled with both triumphs and challenges, shaping my path in unexpected ways.

 

Embrace the Adventure

Despite setbacks like the infamous encounter at PepsiCo's headquarters, I refused to be deterred. In the vibrant streets of New York, Yo-ree became a beacon of hope, captivating audiences with its charm and cutting-edge technology. From exclusive corporate events to impromptu performances in subway stations, Yo-ree's journey through the city became a testament to resilience and determination.

 

With every step, I documented our adventures, capturing panoramic views and immersive videos to showcase Yo-ree's capabilities. As we navigated the bustling streets and iconic landmarks of New York, I realized that our journey was more than just a showcase of technology—it was a celebration of dreams realized and obstacles overcome.

Join me as I traverse the vibrant tapestry of New York City, where innovation knows no bounds and dreams take flight. Together, let's embrace the adventure and witness the rise of a new era in robotics, led by the remarkable Yo-ree.

 

Chasing Robotic Dreams: A Journey to New York with Drago and Yo-ree

In August 2019, I embarked on an ambitious quest, determined to showcase what I though was my most remarkable creation, Yo-ree Robot, to the world. This robot, my invention that shatters the uncanny valley by seamlessly blending human-like traits with an endearing, almost childlike appearance, had been a labor of love spanning over a decade.


Yo-ree won the prestigious CITI Product of the Year award (Citibank), was a finalist in the esteemed Innobis Digital Challenge, and a finalist in the prestigious Innovation Awards LATAM. Meanwhile, Drago, my other robot son, became the host of its own planetarium, as this is a robotic system equipped with AI for education in space exploration. These robots were also featured on CNN and Univision interviews, garnering widespread attention.


From a young age, I harbored a deep fascination for the field of robotics. However, my path towards this passion was not a straightforward one. Initially, I found myself deterred by the prospect of studying mathematics and physics, intimidated by the intricate numerical equations and formulas that underpinned these subjects. A particularly daunting chemistry teacher and lackluster math professors during my high school years instilled in me a fear of failure in the sciences. Paradoxically, I always dreamed of robots and found solace in the engaging biology classes taught by a wonderful professor.

After graduating, I pursued a degree in business and marketing, believing these disciplines to be more accessible compared to the rigors of scientific study. I ventured into developing a marketing agency, specializing in creating hot air balloons and helium balloons for promotional purposes. Unexpectedly, this endeavor introduced me to the STEM field, as I had to grapple with the physical properties required to make a balloon float in mid-air. Moreover, residing in Quito City, situated at a dizzying elevation of 9,000 feet, presented unique challenges, as flying machines behave differently in the thin, oxygen-deprived air.


My early attempts were marred by failures – hot air balloons catching fire and helium airships swiftly blown away by the strong, unexpected crosswinds that appeared out of nowhere at altitudes exceeding 30 meters. On one harrowing occasion, a member of my technical staff attempted to hold onto a helium balloon, only to be swept off their feet by the powerful upward momentum, carrying them over a shopping center before landing gently on the opposite side of the street – a terrifying experience, indeed.

As I teetered on the brink of financial ruin, I came to a profound realization: although I loved the marketing field, I was also an engineer at heart. Sometimes, we are too young to make definitive career choices, and our true passions may take time to unveil themselves. Thus, I embarked on pursuing what I had always yearned for – the creation of robots.


Drawing upon my natural inclination for tinkering and building machines from a young age, I began designing robots. I had always possessed an innate talent for crafting (or, admittedly, breaking) mechanisms at home, fascinated by flying machines and robotics. As a child, I had developed scale planes, helicopters, and robots from repurposed toys, harboring ingenious ideas that were ahead of their time.

 

Merging my marketing skills with the study of engineering became the natural next step, albeit a journey of continuous learning and personal growth. The field of robotics is ever-evolving, and what was cutting-edge in the 2000s may be obsolete by 2024. This path demands a commitment to lifelong learning and improvement. Since then, I have developed over 40 robots and established eight giant robotic museums.

But this story today is about an incredible journey in New York, where I walked the streets of the Big Apple with a remarkable companion robot: Yo-ri.Yo-ree was not the first nor the only one. During 2017, I had already attempted to introduce another robot to the USA market – Drago, a technologically advanced mythical creature that springs to life before your eyes, responding dynamically to your spoken commands thanks to its cutting-edge artificial intelligence capabilities. As you engage with the dragon, your words are seamlessly translated into mesmerizing planetarium-projected visuals and audio, fully immersing you in this fantastical realm.

Meanwhile, Yo-ree is no ordinary machine; it is the embodiment of a vision to create an assistant robot that could not only comprehend natural language but also learn and grow through interactive experiences. This natural language processing (NLP) system was developed before the groundbreaking ChatGPT showcase. From its inception in 2008 to its evolution in 2017, Yo-ree had undergone countless iterations, each one refining its capabilities and pushing the boundaries of what was thought possible.

With a proven track record of captivating audiences for industry giants like Nestlé, Bristol Myers Squibb, Pfizer, and Pepsi, Drago and Yo-ree were more than just technological devices; they were a testament to the power of innovation and unwavering perseverance.


As I made my way to the bustling streets of New York City, my goal was clear: to introduce Drago and Yo-ree to potential investors, partners, and companies that could help propel these extraordinary creations to new heights. Little did I know that the journey ahead would be filled with both triumphs and challenges.

I traveled twice to showcase my machines, during 2017 and during 2019.

Upon arrival at JFK Airport, both times, I found myself in a precarious situation. Carrying these robots – one a metal and plastic creation aptly named Yo-ree, and the other a cardboard wonder fondly referred to as Drago – through security checkpoints was no easy feat. To the keen eyes of the X-ray scanners, these mechanical machines resembled something akin to suspicious devices, setting off a chain of events that would test my resolve.


The first encounter with airport security was nothing short of intense. As I calmly passed through the checkpoint, a giant customs dog, the biggest I've ever seen, alerted on my bag. I was promptly instructed to open it, slowly and carefully. Within its depths lay Drago's unmistakable visage – a robotic dragon head complete with piercing eyes and furrowed brows. The officer's reaction was one of bewilderment and suspicion. "What is that?" he exclaimed, his voice tinged with concern. With a deep breath, I explained the true nature of my peculiar cargo – a robot dragon head destined for the Advertising Week expo in New York City.


This bizarre encounter was merely a prelude to the challenges that lay ahead. Upon boarding the plane, I found myself summoned not once, but twice, to disembark and navigate the labyrinth of customs clearance. Amidst the scrutiny and questioning, a glimmer of hope emerged in the form of an acquaintance, Alie, who proved to be a veritable guardian angel, helping to smooth the way and facilitate connections with potential partners and companies in New York for the first robot, Drago.

I met Alie when I was trying to forge connections and open paths in the USA for my technology. I decided to call as many companies as possible, but she was the one who opened the doors, connecting me with companies in the USA, especially for the prestigious Advertising Week NY event at the iconic NASDAQ building in New York.

This was in 2017 when the cardboard robot Drago talked, interacted, and produced mist from its mouth, captivating audiences. This Dragon was a remarkable host and interactive talking machine, even before the advent of ChatGPT or any other AI NLP on the market.


When I received the call from Alie stating that we were selected and that they needed us to be in New York, there was only one week left until the event. I had only a poorly constructed cardboard Dragon, and I had to transform it into a state-of-the-art cardboard dragon to showcase it in New York. I worked tirelessly, day and night, with almost no sleep. My devoted wife was by my side all this time, configuring the logistics, air tickets, and passport documentation for travel. However, most of our backpacks and bags were filled with robotic dragon parts and only occasionally some personal clothes. I was apprehensive and nervous, as it is always challenging to unveil a new invention to an unknown public, but New York exuded an inexplicable allure and magic.


Finally, we arrived in the electrifying New York City. When we got to the airport, a bizarre incident unfolded as a strange taxi driver tried to unlock my bag, causing an elastic strip to release from it. The man received a hit and started crying, "You tried to kill me." He exclaimed this in front of a police officer. This peculiar encounter served as a stark reminder that I had indeed arrived in the chaotic and unpredictable New York. Luckily, the officer did not pay attention to this seemingly unhinged individual.


After reaching the NASDAQ building where the Advertising Week event was held, we prepared to assemble our robot, but we only had some cardboard bags, and the guards did not believe we had a dragon there, as everything appeared to be mere cardboard parts. Undeterred, I assembled part of Drago on the street and was then allowed into the building. We spent two remarkable days receiving thousands of visitors and garnering press attention. It became clear that Drago was a resounding success.

At the end of the event, Drago was a well-received AI machine that propelled me to introduce the more advanced robot, Yo-ree, during 2019. Drago left an indelible mark as a prominent image at that year's Advertising Week in New York.


Despite the hurdles, my determination to introduce Yo-ree to the world remained unwavering. In 2019, two years after the initial Drago showcase, I returned to New York. As I traversed the city, showcasing this extraordinary creation to industry leaders and visionaries, I couldn't help but feel an immense sense of pride and accomplishment. Yo-ree was more than just a robot; it was a manifestation of years of hard work, perseverance, and an unwavering belief in the power of dreams.


While the journey to New York may have been fraught with challenges, I am reminded that the path to success is rarely a straight line. It is a winding road filled with obstacles and uncertainties, but also with moments of triumph and personal growth. Through it all, Yo-ree remained a beacon of hope, a symbol of what can be achieved when we dare to dream and have the courage to pursue those dreams relentlessly.

Another intriguing idea was to explore the streets of New York with a robot as a travel companion.


Microsoft: During the ENTRE event for entrepreneurs, I decided to bring a robot along. I walked with the robot on the subway and then arrived at the Microsoft building, declaring my intention to enter with my robotic companion. To my surprise, they were keen to have me present my robot to the entrepreneurs and some Microsoft executives on the 45th floor. I ended up giving a conference to over 400 attendees about my robot at this event focused on entrepreneurship. This experience allowed me to forge many valuable connections to introduce Yo-ree.


PepsiCo: During the previous event with Drago in 2017, I met some directive staff from Venture Fuel, one of the organizing companies of Advertising Week NY. Upon my return to New York in 2019, I contacted them to inform them of my presence. The CEO of Venture Fuel decided to arrange a presentation for me at PepsiCo's headquarters in White Plains, New York. This was an incredible opportunity to visit PepsiCo's iconic headquarters. However, it also became one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. 


Despite preparing my presentation and robot for over a week, the robot decided not to cooperate during the event, acting erratically and not following commands. The machine seemed to have a mind of its own and refused to function as intended. Furthermore, the backup power system failed to work correctly. I had thoroughly tested the system for many days, but at the critical moment of the presentation, it did not operate properly.


I was competing with multiple companies to present a robotic solution for advertising and sales using robots, and I knew my device was good enough to be part of the contest. The contest aimed to create an innovative robotic system for these purposes (I cannot explain much details due to NDA). However, the robot completely failed during the presentation, and I became extremely nervous.


In my nervousness, I made a significant blunder. As I struggled with the malfunctioning robot, I uttered the words, "The robot is able to take and bring you a 'Coke' and present it to your clients." You can imagine the gravity of this statement, as I was at the PepsiCo Headquarters in White Plains, New York, offering to showcase a robot that would promote a competitor's product. It was an utterly mortifying moment, and I could not believe the words that had just come out of my mouth. I was astonished that my robot and I were not immediately escorted out.


It was undoubtedly one of the most ashamed and embarrassing presentations of my life. After the fiasco at PepsiCo, I remained in my bed for the next two days, deeply contemplating what just happened after many hours of planning. The experience left me utterly dejected and questioning my abilities as an inventor, sales specialist and entrepreneur.


It took me several days to recover from the psychological devastation caused by my disastrous presentation at PepsiCo. I had traveled so far, all the way to New York, only to squander the incredible opportunity to secure a direct partnership with a corporate giant like PepsiCo. The embarrassment and self-doubt that followed were crippling.


However, as I found myself in the vibrant heart of New York, I decided to make the most of my stay and document my companion robot, Yo-ree, in various locations throughout the city. I meticulously captured panoramic pictures, immersive 360-degree videos, and unique robot-cam perspectives, determined to showcase Yo-ree's capabilities in a diverse range of settings.


(To be continued - part 2...)


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