Obviously, we love all things robotics and 3D printing – and we love it when others join in on our enthusiasm. We are very excited to welcome Mazen to our team who came all the way from Egypt to join us here in Nuremberg, Germany. It is a great opportunity for us to support young talents in the robotics field and get his insights on our project.
First of all, Mazen, what is your background? What have you been working on before you came to us?
I was part of a research team for about a year at Innopolis University in Russia where we were developing a method for wheelchairs to ascend stairs. I worked on the mechanism that transforms the wheels to legs and then back to wheels. A research paper for that mechanism has been accepted in multiple conferences and is currently awaiting publication. Before that, I worked in the IoT field remotely with a US based company and also designed e-learning engineering courses for compliance and safety inside factories.
How did you find us and what made you want to come to Germany and join our team?
I’ve never been outside of Egypt and had reached a threshold in my career. I’m very ambitious in the robotics world and there are not many opportunities for that in my home country, so I wanted to find an opportunity to work in that field abroad. I was interested in a research position, a hands-on job, not a typical desk job.
My prior research projects were mainly remote and I was wanting to actually be on site and work in a lab. So I went on LinkedIn and searched for exciting research projects. I stumbled upon pib and the profile of Jürgen Baier, and I reached out. We chatted for a while, we did an interview and our visions collided. So we decided I would come here to Germany. It was a lengthy process, but the company helped me a lot with my work visa and with finding an appartment. I will be here for two months, then I will be back in Egypt because I still have an ongoing Bachelor of Mechatronics Engineering. I have been here for about three weeks now and everything has been going well.
What have you been working on so far?
Right now, the Maker Faire in Hannover is coming up where we will be on September 10 and 11, so there were a few mechanical things that needed adjusting before we present them at the fair. We adapted new shoulder and neck mechanisms that will allow pib to have a much greater range of motion. Also, we changed the hand design to use only one motor for one finger instead of two motors for one finger. This posed some mechanical difficulties because at first, one motor was pulling one part of the finger and the other was pulling the other part. But now we wanted one motor to pull both. So we had to design an adapter that has two strings from the finger and one string from the motor that connects them and it is now working. This will be the current design for the hand which we will be showing at the Maker Faire.
In the electrical domain we now have a fully functional power supply that is able to power our computer, tinkerforge chips and all the motors. So we can say that pib is 100% ready electrically.
Unfortunately, the computer we had been using for pib went out of stock. So we needed a new one and decided we would use Raspberry PI. It is now successfully controlling our tinkerforge chips and servos. We are also working with motion detection so this Raspberry PI can be connected to cameras that can see if someone is moving and it can act on that. So if I am moving by, pib can follow me with his head or if he sees something he can try to grab it. So this is a great achievement which we are also excited to show at the fair.
What are your next projects regarding pib?
After the fair, I will be working on creating synthetic skin for pib that the user can touch and it will give pib information where and how firmly he has been touched. The synthetic skin will also let pib know that when he grabs something, how hard the object is touching against his skin and therefore inform him how hard he is gripping the object. We can use that to make the robot grab and hold a glass and it won’t break, and such things.
Do you have any specific ideas for future improvements or changes to pib?
After working on the synthetic skin I would propose that we create different models of pib – a model complete with skin, a small model with just one arm, one with weaker and one with stronger motors, …
So it’s not just one version of pib, it’s pib for school, pib for industry, pib for hobbyists, scientists; there would be different levels, different types of complications such as more or less complicated AI or chips. That would be my idea for the future – let’s see if we can get it done or come up with another way to improve our robot!
Mazen, thank you for your time and your enthusiasm! We are excited to have you on board. Let’s shape the future together!