In this series, members of the View Labs team will share their point of view on our digital solutions and proprietary technology. This week we chatted with Radhika Rajaram, Sr. Mechanical Engineer.
At View Labs, we create innovative, immersive video solutions. The first technology we conceptualized was our autonomous robots which have been skillfully designed and developed in-house by a team of dedicated engineers. They are an integral part of our digital visualization suite. Capable of covering up to +25,000 sq. ft./hour, View Labs robots provide the fastest and most cost-effective method of filming professional, moving 360° content. They were developed for interior and exterior navigation without size limitation, and move at a constant, smooth pace with sensors to avoid any interference. In this blog, we chat with Sr. Mechanical Engineer, Radhika Rajaram, one of our founding robot engineers, to learn her Point of VIEW and unpack a little bit of this complex and always evolving technology. Keep reading to learn more about our robots and how they became what they are today!
Q: What was the creation/design process like when building the robots? How many trials did it take to get the technology right?
A: The founding team at View Labs was very certain, right from the start, about the key capabilities of the robot that they wanted. It took a few months of testing out different processors, frameworks, sensors, and actuators before we could find the right combination that we could rely on, not just to fulfill the current requirements, but also to accommodate future requirements. After about one year of R&D, one of the sub-components of the robot that had to be painstakingly designed, assembled and configured, was suddenly available commercially. This was a real blessing for us since it allowed us to focus more on the important aspects of the robot such as the drive system, controls, autonomy, UX/UI, data collection, and processing. So it only took an additional year for us to get to a performance level that could be used for our initial use case. Once we launched operations, iterations became quicker as we received operator feedback and debugged errors from on-site runs.
Q: How has View Labs robot technology evolved throughout the years?
A: Both hardware and software have gotten more modular and reconfigurable over the years as we have expanded the applications of the robot. This has also allowed us to work around supply chain disruptions during the pandemic; we can make some quick substitutions if some off-the-shelf parts become very hard to source in time. The capabilities of the robot have expanded to accommodate autonomous behavior in larger spaces, uneven terrain, and diverse payloads. Operationally, things have gotten more streamlined due to cloud integration for updates, monitoring, and data collection.
Q: What capabilities do you think the robots could potentially have in the future?
A: There are quite a few R&D efforts underway in using our tech for construction monitoring, film & tv production, and diverse use cases in retail.
Q: What is your favorite thing about working at View Labs?
A: View Labs believes in its employees. It is not uncommon to see new hires with significant responsibilities from an early start; this builds their confidence and experience quickly.
Q: How does View Labs robot technology stand out amongst competitors?
The very existence of our robot sets us apart from our competitors. Specifically in the world of virtual tours, the standard practice is to use compatible cameras to capture 360° footage which is then turned into a virtual tour. This is not always 100% accurate, and since it is usually taken by a person with a camera that has far less range than our robots, the spatial data it gathers is not as exact as the data our robot has been developed to collect. Essentially, our robot has a better grasp of the size and dimensions of a space, which gives a better, life-like view into a property that a prospect might be interested in. Moreover, at View Labs, we continually explore, develop, and deploy novel uses for the data generated by the robot, which allows us to offer additional products, faster turnaround times, and more efficient workflows. Our robots' modular design has far more uses than just content creation, and our team continues to develop and expand on the possibilities our robots can offer.
Q: What do you consider to be the most interesting feature the robots have & why?
A: At the moment, it’s the ramp behavior being built out by our robot software team. A wheeled robot detecting, entering, and exiting narrow, temporary ramps autonomously is a harder problem when you break it down into steps. There’s plenty of edge cases and opportunities for slip-ups. I’m very impressed with how far they’ve come close to achieving that perfectly.