Local showcases own creation of ‘Rosie the Robot’

Rosie the Robot, the smart aleck maid from the 1960’s “The Jetsons” cartoon, has been brought to life by a self-described tech nerd from Port Orchard.

Robert Zollna built his own Rosie robot that was featured in the cult-classic cartoon. “I watched The Jetsons as a kid. It aired in the morning as I was getting ready for school and repeated in the afternoon after school along with the Flintstones,” Zollna said.

The 56-year-old electronic wizard added, “It’s challenging and fun to take something that was animated and never meant to be a functioning thing and bring it to life.”

Once the cyber housekeeper was assembled it didn’t take long for Zollna to realize he created a hit. After tightening the last screw on the robot, he posted a clip of it on the internet. It quickly went viral. “I posted Rosie to TikTok. When I woke up the next morning I was at a million views. I originally thought (she) would be a bit obscure but everyone knew who she was right away. The comment section also went crazy. People said, ‘I grew up on this.’ ‘I love this!’”

Rosie debuted at this year’s Emerald City Comic Con. Zollna also showcased two of his earlier robots – WALL-E and M-O, featured in Disney’s Wall-E movie. Comic-Con is an annual event that draws thousands to the Seattle Convention Center. Attendees include super fans, described as “cosplayers,” who wear costumes depicting their favorite comic or Sci-Fi character – think Star Wars or Star Trek.

To date 3.5 million have viewed Rosie on Zollna’s TikTok account (at ziggy_nonskid). Fans of the space-age maid are not limited to Baby Boomers who watched the cartoon when it first aired. “A lot of people from younger generations watched The Jetsons on Nickelodeon. When parents give their kids tablets even small kids today are watching The Jetsons, which was surprising to me,” Zollna said.

The Jetsons was translated into Spanish, so Rosie is popular all across Latin America, too, he noted. “The Spanish-speaking audience was almost as large as the English-speaking audience.”

The locally built Rosie stands 5-foot-6 inches tall and weighs 50 pounds. The robot plays audio snippets from the show and the program’s theme song: “Meet George Jetson. His Boy Elroy. Daughter Judy. Jane his wife.”

After obtaining an AA degree in mechanical engineering, Zollna became a Navy engineer, working in Keyport, repairing small craft and torpedo retriever devices. In addition to building robots, he constructed a solar-powered greenhouse made from recycled materials, including shingles from an old boathouse and windows from Craigslist. He also built a remote-controlled submarine with a manipulator claw and video capability. The 2-foot vessel has been used to explore local sunken boats.

Fans will be able to see Rosie locally at Whaling Days in Silverdale, the Blackberry Festival in Bremerton, and at the Fathoms O’ Fun Grand Parade in Port Orchard.