Fatemeh und Maryam forschen in ihrer Heimat Iran auf dem Gebiet der Robotik. Für ein Kooperationsprojekt ihrer Hochschule mit der ZHAW School of Engineering haben sie drei Monate in Winterthur verbracht. Im zweiten Teil unseres Interviews stellen sie ihre Arbeit vor.

Please describe the project you are working on.
Fatemeh: We are working in the field of human-robot interaction. There are more and more industrial robots in production. If those robots and humans would work together, it would increase the production efficiency. However, until now it is not save for humans to work together with industrial robots. The risk of getting hurt unintentionally is still high. We are working on creating a save cooperation and working zone. Therefore, we are working on a system where robots detect and predict, if a worker moves with a certain intention. My part is to feed the system with the information, what the human being is about to do – is the person just observing or is he about to interact. I am using deep learning and image processing algorithms. The aim is to avoid that the robot collides with the worker. But if there is a contact, Maryam’s work takes over.

Sensors detect Fatemeh coming into the range of the robot.

Maryam: The robot cannot distinguish, if a contact is intentional or unintentional. So, my part is to make the system learn, if the contact with the worker is intentional or unintentional and which part of the body it contacts. The robot has to analyse, if the worker intentionally touches it to do a certain movement or accidently hits his head. In the first case, the robot has to work together with the worker and in the second, it has to shut down.

Maryam working together with the industrial robot.

Fatemeh: Our work will also increase the efficiency of the system. Normally robots shut down, when a person comes too close, so it will not hurt the person. But with our system the robot recognizes how long it can go on working without any contact and just shuts down, when the situation gets dangerous.

What will you take home from the experiences workwise?
Maryam: One thing our professor told us was to come here and have a look at what robots can do in industrial environments. He wants us to come back with the experiences and implement them on the existing technologies without making too many people jobless. This is why we worked on human-robot interaction. Here we are working with a Franka Emika robot. We use a certain ROS – a robot operating system – that allows different types of systems to connect together. We do not have Franka Emika robots in Iran, but we can use the knowledge we gained with the ROS and implement it on the robots we have.

You had the chance to work with industrial robots. Do you have a connection between your university and the industry as well?
Maryam: Yes, there are connections. But not in robotics as it is still a very new field of research. The industry in Iran is not yet in a place where robots would be of a lot of use. It still depends strongly on human workforce. It will take time to develop.

What other experiences will you take back?
Maryam: We want to continue doing our PHDs. We need to gain experience in international environments. It is kind of a personal development.
Fatemeh: The work here extended our minds about robotics and what we achieve with the use of robotics. We learned how to design scenarios working with robotics.

What will your professional future look like?
Fatemeh: After the PhD I would like to work in an industrial environment, for example in a big industrial company. Definitely, I want to continue working with robots.
Maryam: I want to stay in academics. I like to develop new ideas of robotics. But I like the connection with the industry as it is at the ZHAW as well. I want to tackle industries’ problems. And I want to teach as a professor at the University.
Fatemeh: Now, as you mention it, that is what I want to do as well. 🙂