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Two legged robots, self-driving cars to advanced security systems: Exciting trends in Robotics

‘To get you started in the field, a computer and internet is enough,’ says Revant Mahajan, Software Development Engineer at Amazon Robotics



Machines that can think, act and perform like humans, sounds delightful, doesn’t it? And what more? Created by us, they are programmed to deliver tasks with greater skill and efficiency. This definitely is a tech-driven age because humans are unstoppable. With these new technologies come opportunities for newer roles, skills and jobs. Read On, as Apeejay alumnus, Revant Mahajan talks more about his domain:

Please tell us about your educational journey. 

I completed schooling from Apeejay, Pitampura right from classes Nursery to 12. I opted for the Non-Medical stream with Computer Science during my +2.

My inclination towards the field of Robotics developed early on. This was about 11-12 years ago, when I was in class 5 and engaged in a project in which I had Lego Mindstorm kits for assembling robots and programming them through block coding. So, essentially my interest was fuelled when I created those projects on my own and then further developed them as I joined the Robotics Club of the school. It was very exciting for me to see these different parts moving as a whole!

Since that time, I wanted to pursue Robotics. I told my parents the same. But there were only a few things we knew about the domain and the educational institutions offering the course were also limited. Jobs in the field weren’t as well-known either.

And later, in my school years, I excelled in Mathematics and Physics. So, I decided to take the plunge. And while I was applying for college, I found a couple of universities in the United States offering undergraduate courses.

I completed two four-year Majors in Robotics and Computer Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Massachusetts in 2021. In that time, I also opted for some Advanced-level Master’s classes to learn more about the field. Then, I also had internship opportunities at Dell EMC and Amazon Robotics. Later, I bagged a full-time role at Amazon Robotics as a Software Development Engineer – I. It has been about a year now in the organisation.

Please tell us more about the field of Robotics.

Broadly, the field is said to be divided into three areas: Computer Science, Mechanical and Electrical. There is so much to explore within these fields as well. You could go from designing new and efficient designs for robots to developing novel programmes that let robots perceive the world around them and act intelligently. It’s a field that requires a lot of interdisciplinary work and that’s what makes it special.

Your roles and responsibilities at Amazon Robotics?

I work as a Software Development Engineer in the Path-Planning team. It is responsible for providing a path to robots for performing necessary functions. To give you an analogy, if you use Google maps, you feed in a destination and then search for its location. The software gives you a route, provides you the directions and displays how much time you will reach. Now imagine that in a warehouse you need the same functionality for the robots to go from Point A to Point B. That’s what my team does

Another responsibility is to develop and build new technologies. In a simplistic way, the function is about creating and maintaining these technologies that drive the fulfilment of Amazon orders in an efficient manner.

For those who wish to pursue education in the States, your advice?

I enrolled in my higher education course six years ago. And I am certain that several things have changed since then, especially due to Covid-19. The major thing has been that many universities are now accepting application without standardised testing scores

However, when I applied, personal essays and letters of recommendation were the focus for me. An aspirant must bear in mind that a foreign university does not know anything about them. And, their decision to accept or reject a candidate will be largely based on the information you provide them. Therefore, one needs to supplement it by emphasising why you wish to pursue a certain course or field.

In my case, Robotics was my passion. And, I made sure that the same reflects in my statement as well. Those were key in making me stand out as a candidate. My suggestion is that students should keep exploring. All they really need is a laptop/computer system and a stable internet connection. Once that is in place, they are good to go.

Please tell us more about your study abroad journey.

Once I completed class 10, my parents sat me down to understand what I really want to pursue. Then, collaboratively, we worked towards the goal of studying abroad. It took about 2 years of planning, studying, shortlisting and enrolling in a course after which I took admission the same year I left Apeejay School, Pitampura.

Your message for study abroad aspirants?

My passion for technology fuelled my curiosity and brought me to the States. Surely, I would not compare any timeline to others and would say that students should not be in a rush to study abroad.

Rather, they must consider where they are at the moment and plan accordingly. Ask for help and take suggestions for peers and mentors. Work backwards to map out your goal and engage in projects that can enhance your profile. While planning your study abroad journey, time management is crucial.

Do tell us about the work culture at Amazon Robotics.

I enjoy it very much. My team has been very supportive and collaborative. There is a huge amount of skill-based learning and growth opportunities in the team. The best part of the job is creating new technologies and working on different problems.

Any up and coming exciting trends in Robotics?

At present, Robotics has a huge application in industrial warehouses. This has been explored thus far. But the new thing is the consumer-centric usage of Robotics, i.e. robots for your home. The basic example is iRobot Roomba, a vacuum cleaner. Amazon too has launched a robot called Astro. I see that these inventions are very interesting, and this trend is big.

Overall, Robotics is moving towards collecting huge amounts of data and using deep learning, artificial intelligence to enhance user’s experiences. The computer vision capabilities to seek information from the environment around us is great and it would lead to big innovations. The biggest example would be self-driving cars which can even predict and adjust to the ambiguous conditions on roads.

To be honest, I am a 90s kid who grew up on floppy disks, then laptops, smartphones, and from there to here we can see how the world has moved so fast. My personal favourite are the two-legged robots who can traverse different terrains undiscovered by humans.

Your experience at Apeejay School, Pitampura?

I have nothing but fond memories of the school. I had the opportunity to build and develop good relationships with all the teachers there. And, these further helped me in my career. I would like specially to thank Pooja Ma’am from the Computer Science department since she fuelled my curiosity and encouraged my dream. The most important lesson learnt at school is to become more accepting of my limitations and focus on my strengths.

Mrini Devnani is a Principal Correspondent and Marketing Coordinator at Newsroom. She covers student achievements, conducts interviews, and contributes content to the website. Previously, she served as a Correspondent specialising in Edu-tech for the India Today Group. Her skill areas extend to Social Media and Digital Marketing. For any inquiries or correspondence, you can reach out to her at [email protected]

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