ROTONDA WEST — Eighth-grader Daniel Lopez may not have the vast resources of Tony Stark, the Marvel Comics superhero who saved the world in “Iron Man,” but he may be just as creative.
Daniel’s robot won him first place for eighth-graders and middle schoolers overall at the Thomas Alva Edison Kiwanis Science and Engineering Regional Fair in early February.
Now the Rotonda West teen has the opportunity to present his invention, the Robotic Exoskeleton Shoulders and Arm, or REXSA, to an angel investment group.
With mentoring from the Entrepreneur Society of Naples, Daniel hopes to show REXSA to the investor group Gator Cage later this spring or summer.
“The movie ‘Iron Man’ was my inspiration,” said Daniel, 14. “I saw the suit and I wanted to build one of those.”
The robot is built using parts from Vex Robotics, a provider of educational robotics products to middle and high schools and colleges and used to teach science, technology, engineering and math, according to vexrobotics.com.
The robot is mounted across Lopez’s shoulders with Velcro straps attached from top to bottom on the front side. The right arm is affixed with an adjustable claw that has enough pressure to hold a water bottle and can exert enough force to press buttons.
“This is the first design,” said Daniel, an L.A. Ainger Middle School student. “I plan to build the second version of it within the next couple months.”
Andy Green, an Ainger science teacher, helped Daniel with his invention.
“He’s a special young man,” Green said. “He’s a really inventive person.”
Green praised Daniel’s resourcefulness in building this and other original designs.
“He built a model airplane from scratch,” she said. “It’s the same with his REXSA project. He found a program online to help with the design and he was able to program it. It’s pretty incredible.”
The Entrepreneur Society of Naples is mentoring Daniel and he plans to present the robot to them on March 13. They will prep him for a meeting later in the summer with Gator Cage.
Daniel said he wants the robot “to be completely autonomous.”
The final product will be a full body suit with a microcomputer for processing and will run off of a motorcycle battery, he said.
“It’s not going to be gasoline (powered),” he said. “It’s going to be full electric and I expect it to have a full battery life of 45 minutes.”
The current model runs on a 7.2 volt battery, which is ideal for the “small little battle robots,” Daniel said.
After he finishes high school, Daniel said he plans to go to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and be an aeronautical engineer. He hopes to start his own technology company and work in the fields of medicine and nanotechnology.
But first he has to finish middle school.
Daniel’s more immediate plans are to attend the EnergyWhiz Olympics at the Florida Energy Center May 4.