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 had a chance to chat with Lead Engineer, Hernan Badenes. He lives in the mountains of Patagonia, Argentina, and has been with InOrbit for a little more than three years.
Let’s dive right in Hernan, why robots?
Robots are exciting; that’s a fact. Robots may have been hyped to drive us to some utopian future for like 100 years now, yet truthfully they were hardly seen by anyone until very recently. We are now seeing an explosion of new robotics applications. Even when they fail the supporting technologies being tested and built are maturing, enabling more development, experimentation, and evolution of the field.
We know the field is growing. What few people seem to think about though is the immense amount of infrastructure required to run large-scale robot fleets. All robotics companies should be thinking about common solutions robots need to scale. I am excited to see how our work can impact the field – interconnecting heterogeneous robots from different manufacturers, with different objectives, and then applying learnings and insights from the vast amounts of data they generate from one robot and one fleet to another.
That is exciting, so is it the results that inform your work?
I love creating solutions that we can see in use, building tools that enable companies to integrate automation uniquely to grow their businesses. We are honestly doing something new here; parts of our product did not have a market at all when we started, and now they are being used by multiple clients. Seeing our work applied like this is my greatest satisfaction.
So what’s it like actually working at InOrbit?
We explore new problems every day, solving exciting things (for an engineer), working at scale, and using technologies that are really cool. And it's robots. Robots are always cool. We’re a relatively small team, but even though we’re distributed we work closely together to experiment, learn, and solve problems. I never feel like I’m working alone, there’s lots of collaboration.
What do you think sets InOrbit apart?
We’re working in a new market. There aren’t many companies doing anything even close to what we do. There is real value to the solutions we can apply. Every day we talk to customers about our platform, or how we can integrate with their platforms and robots and learn new things, explore new ways to meet their needs.
We pay a lot of attention to customer needs and love to work and solve their specific problems. It’s a real-world value that boosts the entire InOrbit platform, and allows us to validate practical features being used in the field. I also don’t think we’ve ever fully truly finished a feature. It's an iterative work in progress: test, validate, learn, and grow. That’s wonderful for an engineer.
How does InOrbit work with standards? Do you think they help, or hinder innovation?
Standards help, but the market is behind the technology when it comes to standards. There are just not enough standards out there, and it makes it harder for some problems to be solved, like interoperability, heterogeneous fleets, or even just enabling small start-up manufacturers to really grow. They’ll be forced to solve the same problems again and again until we get standards. At this point, the market really needs more standards. At InOrbit we’re trying to get ahead of these problems, but truthfully the issues are still being defined as the space evolves, and those solutions are difficult to build. We need time and an effort across the field to develop true, effective standards that support integrated robot operations.
Is there anything you worked on personally at InOrbit that you just love?
I am involved in so many parts of the product. I’m really proud of everything. Every time I hear customers using features, and when we get feedback from them with that “Ah ha!” moment it’s amazing. When they tell us that this one new feature or upgrade changed their life in a small but significant way, it’s fantastic.
What else should we know about you?
Truthfully, all the time when I am working I am thinking about getting out into nature. I love engineering and coding, but my head is often lost between the mountains and the software. Doing something you love outdoors is part of the equation for me. I dream about flying my paraglider on the weekend, and it’s kind of like I’m flying all week long.
Thanks to Hernan for taking the time to chat. It was a great chance to get some industry insights from an engineer in the tick of development. Connect with Hernan, and the InOrbit team 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.