At InOrbit, most of our time is spent thinking about robots and how to make them perform better. But part of that vision includes robots and humans working together – without the human factor, robots are just a collection of metal and plastic parts. Here is another in a series of posts highlighting some of the outstanding humans on the InOrbit team, also known as InOrbiters. The posts aim to share details on some members of the team, what drove them to work here, and what they find most interesting about robotics and the development of the InOrbit platform.
Today we sat down with Elvio Aruta. a Release Engineer and QA Automation specialist at InOrbit. He lives in Mendoza, Argentina, and has been with InOrbit for exactly one year.
Let’s start with how you got interested in robotics.
What brought me to robotics are the challenges that you encounter every day. I like challenges and I like to feel that from my position I am doing something that contributes to improving how technology and people work together. I also love the idea of people and robots working together, and really what better way to do it with a company like InOrbit? A company that integrates robots with operations, data, cloud technologies, and tools for robotics developers.
This is a great place to work for people like me who love technology, in general, applied to everything.
What is it about robots then?
I think 90% of things in the world can be automated. I say this because I think robots will eventually cover that much, helping people to perform high-value tasks that require human thinking.
No one thinks about how boring and repetitive it is to do a task over and over again, robots are coming to save us from those tasks, allowing us to focus on how to improve processes and optimize them, taking the world to another level of efficiency.
What do you enjoy about your role at InOrbit?
I love automating any type of task or process. Automating things minimizes human error which allows the quality of processes to improve significantly, making the product that reaches our customers better and better, which ends up adding real value to the platform. I like to be the person in charge of promoting automation within InOrbit and I really like that the team has the same vision for this. The great work environment and shared ideas inside InOrbit are what make us a great team and so good at developing the platform.
You have a dual role here at InOrbit, how does your work as a Release Engineer couple with your role in QA?
I studied Systems Engineering at university so I have a background in building processes, and infrastructure. At InOrbit I get to work in many areas. My Quality Assurance role goes well with Release Engineering. I do a lot of coding, where typically QA only focuses on writing tests or proving that a feature works or not, but I can mix the two roles.
I prioritize ensuring the quality of the code, of the product, is high. I try to test a lot and involve the whole tech team, ensuring new features come out faster and with fewer bugs, improving the release process as a whole.
What’s the InOrbit testing methodology?
I like to think in an ideal world, everything will be automated. I love testing automation. My strategy has been to automate every test we can. To do very little manual testing. This makes the process much faster.
For example, I automated almost all of the testing around Free Edition before its release. I know exactly what a Free Edition user can do. My approach in designing the plan for this project was to outline all of the scenarios that a Free Edition user might find themselves in. Then I try to think about how much value each scenario has to a user. This lets me prioritize specific testing on really granular capabilities. Typically when designing an end-to-end test program I always start by trying to automate everything I can. Really the most important scenarios, like “adding a robot” to your InOrbit account, are the most important to prioritize for testing. Every time we release new code we have to ensure this capability is still functional.
When does testing start and how does it integrate with the rest of your work?
We generally work on a develop, test, then release model. So the majority of testing is done just before a feature release. However, because we have automated a lot of processes at InOrbit, there’s an opportunity to test as we develop. Every day tests are run to ensure we’re aligned as we build new features and capabilities. Still, the big testing is all done just before final release.
How do you deal with it when a feature comes out that has a bug?
Look, there are bugs you just can’t catch because they may be well hidden. But if you’re a tech company you have to deal with it. Software always has some bugs, but we work to catch any bugs that might impact the user, and can move to fix bugs quickly. We always catch the big bugs before release.
When is a product ready for release?
Typically we release a new feature that's been developed over a series of sprints. While developing, every time we release new code, usually weekly, even before the main feature is ready for release we run tests. This provides findings as we develop and is great feedback for our developers.
I think a feature is ready when the development has been fully completed. We often release features first to select customers, giving them early access to new capabilities still in final development. I think this is really useful as well. Sometimes we have a certain vision for how a feature may be integrated, but InOrbit users find a new way to use it, or find that it's not really all that useful, or maybe even just want us to make it green instead of blue. All of that feedback is helpful in understanding value.
Have you ever had to hold a feature back from release?
We usually catch bugs and issues with features before they release. Sometimes maybe it needs a bit more work after it goes out the door, but that’s ok. Also sometimes we soft launch and release capabilities in the platform before telling the users. So we can try it out in a real-world scenario. I’m confident in our product and the testing so I’ve never really had to hold anything back.
Our process is robust. We have more customers and more eyeballs on all of our features now. Even with amplified marketing, I’m confident that our platform holds up to scrutiny. When we know a milestone feature like Free Edition is coming out for example we do a lot of extra testing. We follow that plan for all new feature launches.
Will you ever automate yourself out of a job?
LOL. Maybe one day a robot will replace me…
No, really automation helps. It actually won’t ever fully replace a human. Instead, automation gives new opportunities for humans to improve, and do other work that cannot be automated. Automation is a key to future productivity.
Robots are built to help humans. The most important thing to understand about the future of robots is that they will help us achieve our dreams. Say for example you take someone who works in a warehouse moving boxes, but they want something more out of life. Instead of moving boxes themself, they can now have a job managing a box-moving robot. The human then becomes the robot boss. This is only a good thing.
What are the challenges you see in realizing this scenario?
Misinformation probably. Robotics is still a new field. People often speak without really understanding what robotics means. Everyone has seen The Terminator, and sometimes they think that’s how robotics will evolve. That's not reality though. If you start to read about how robots really work you’ll see their potential.
I think in the future everyone will have robots in their house. Everyone will work alongside robots. It will become commonplace.
That’s a great vision for the future. Thanks, Elvio.
It was fantastic of Elvio to take some time to chat with us, and share his insights into the InOrbit process. You can connect with Elvio, and the InOrbit team right here.
InOrbit is always looking for new InOrbiters. If you’d like to join our team, check out the latest job openings at InOrbit.
* Please note, this interview has been edited for length and clarity.