I recently read a quote that went something like “The only way to predict the
future is to invent it.” That seems to leave
God out of the true role He always has in
directing the outcomes of our lives, but it
does highlight the responsibility people
have to evaluate the gifts God has given and
then take action, actually doing something.
It was during those commute times and
while using some techniques of innovation
that we put together the improbable combination of robotics, fun and entertainment, ice
cream and coffee, and a way to make the
world a better place. Now, after much refinement and with the help of input from family
and friends, we have come to this present
point. But it is a point—not the destination.
TOS: Before we get too far into the vision
you men have, could you tell us something
about yourselves? For instance, what can
you relate to us about the educational backgrounds of your two families?
Allan Jones: I grew up in rural Colorado
w ith three siblings. We were educated in
t he government schools during the 70s and
8 0s. I attended P hillips University, a small
l iberal arts school in Enid, Oklahoma.
F rom there, I went on to earn a Ph.D. in
p olymer science from the University of
A kron.It It was in Akron that I met
K athleen, my wife. She later earned a
m aster’s degree in education from the
U niversity of Akron. Jack and his wife,
P atty, are Southern born and raised. Jack’s
M .D. is from A uburn, and Patty has a
d egree in physical therapy.
TOS: How have your children been
Allan Jones: The Rutledges have four
children, all of whom were homeschooled
from birth through high school graduation.
Jack’s oldest, Hannah Greene (now
married), is a project manager for
Discovery Ice Cream. Kathleen and I have
homeschooled our six children from birth
as well. Our oldest, Alyson, graduated
from high school this year. Our youngest is
8 years old. Alyson ( 18), Luke ( 15), and
Lydia ( 14) work at this store.
TOS: Well said, and well done so far! Now,
tell us how you see the concept of
Discovery Ice Cream. How is it different
from other ice cream stores?
See the robots in action at
Robots may seem modern, even futuristic
in many ways, but the idea of mechanical
servants has been around for thousands
of years. From ancient Greece to
medieval Jewish legend to Leonardo
DaVinci to modern science fiction, man
has dreamed of and written about robot-like human helpers for millennia.
Czech playwright Karel Capek first
used the word robot in his play R.U.R.
(Rossum’s Universal Robots) in 1921. It
was derived from the Czech word robota,
which means “drudgery” or “slave labor.”
Robotics, a word first coined by science
fiction writer Isaac Asimov in 1942, is
defined as “the science and technology
of robots.” A roboticist is someone who
has a background in mechanical, electrical, and software systems and specializes in robotics.
Interestingly enough, there is no one
single agreed-upon standard definition of
a robot. This is in part due to the frighteningly rapid pace of technological
change and in part due to the fact that
robots take on many different forms.
As we have seen in science fiction
movies (R2D2, C3PO), there is a wide
variety in the size, shape, and ability of
robots, depending on their intended func-tion(s). Not all robots are Hollywood
creations. Robots are utilized in industrial, military, exploration, household,
academic, and research applications.
Industrial robots commonly perform
tasks that are repetitive or dull, such as
painting, soldering, and assembling, as
well as hazardous tasks such as defusing
bombs. Robots are cleaning homes,
crawling in active volcanoes, plumbing
the depths of the ocean, exploring the
craters of Mars, performing nuclear site
inspections, saving lives in hostage and
crisis situations, performing surgery,
assisting astronauts, delivering office
mail, and now—serving ice cream.
Generally speaking, a robot is a
programmable machine that performs
actions like a thinking creature (
typically human) does, using information it
gets from its surroundings and acting
intelligently by moving around and/or
Robot-like machines have been
around for hundreds of years, but only
in the past fifty years or so, since the
invention of transistors and semiconductors in the 1950s, have robots been
developed to the point where they are
useful in a wide range of applications.
Ever-increasing computing power
combined with compact and reliable
sensors has fueled the development of
The advances in computing power
have provided the added benefit of
making robots accessible at a consumer
level. For those interested in designing
and programming small-scale robots, the
Lego® Mindstorms® website is a good
place to start (http://mindstorms.lego.
Also, the FIRST (For Inspiration and
Recognition of Science and Technology)
organization provides opportunities for
teams of students to compete locally and
nationally with robots of their own
creation ( www.usfirst.org/). Not only do
students have the opportunity to
compete, but in 2008 the program made
available to participants $9.8 million
worth of scholarships from colleges and