2022 Summer Intern Report: Eleftherios Triantafyllidis (Elef)

As part of Telexistence’s effort to find the best talent from anywhere on the planet, we work with Master’s and PhD interns throughout the year. Elef reached out to us in March 2022 showing his strong interest in the opportunity to work together. Despite the complicated visa procedure and the entry restriction amid COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to successfully invite Elef from the UK.

Background: Pursuing PhD in Robotics with a focus on space Teleoperation and Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Edinburgh

Internship Period: July – October 2022

Team: Automation

What do you pursue in your PhD research, and how does it fit with what we do at TX?
In my PhD. I am investigating how different multi-sensory devices and multimodal sensory information, affect human perception and motor performance in VR/MR-based manipulation tasks, coupled with effective evaluation methods to help quantify and measure these. My future goal is not only to properly understand (and most importantly measure) how different multimodal interfaces affect human perception and by extent performance, but also how these could be translated to effective transferable skills for intelligent robots operating in complex environments via effective machine learning strategies such as imitation learning.As part of TX’s goal are to be present everywhere (Telepresence -> Telexistence), I believe my research is very closely entangled with the company’s goal of increasing operator’s immersion when operating telepresence/teleoperation robots.

What is your biggest achievement or learning through this internship so far?
I believe my biggest achievement is the development and conceptualisation of a simulation environment (ISAAC Sim), where TX’s Scara robot can operate in and aid not only be used internally in the company to test different methods without the need to operate the real robot first and also for the company to be able to present to external partners the goal of TX via an appropriate simulation. This will later potentially help the company communicate to external organisations and funders (without the need to physically travel) the company’s goal and future business plans. I hope this project will be used and presented at the upcoming IROS conference and I truly hope it will increase the company’s exposure to the robotics and wider community. This was all achieved thanks to my colleagues helping at every step of the way (automation) and also their support when issues arose. The weekly follow-up meetings with my team are a very good opportunity to discuss and brainstorm with each other about our potential technical problems which are always very nicely solved via everyone’s collective feedback.

What are the three words that best describe the TX team or culture?
Teamwork: The ability to approach others within the company and one’s own team freely when problems or technical issues arise. I think this can be attributed to and is in virtue of TX’s work environment and the absence of a “strict hierarchy”, as anyone can approach others and collectively work together to solve any potential problems in a very friendly and professional environment.
Freedom: The ability to choose how to accomplish a given task so long as the end-goal task is achieved. For example, after agreeing upon a set of end-goals with one’s supervising manager at TX, there are very common occasions where the employee can find alternatives to achieve the goal that is very much welcomed by the company. In essence, you are free to work in any way you would like and choose the “road” to the end-goal freely, so long as you are aware of the timeline and the expected results that your manager and by extent the company expects.
Responsibility: Each employee is responsible for a given task. I believe Freedom and Responsibility are very closely related words here. In my case, I feel that I am responsible for my given tasks and I am given the freedom to work and achieve them in my own way. It is my firm believe that this is undoubtedly a motivating factor that builds upon creativity and I personally find it incredibly helpful to work efficiently and with excitement.

Would you recommend TX as a place to have an internship and why?
I most certainly would. TX is a perfect place for anyone looking to have the freedom of working independently and simultaneously as a member of a team, with the freedom of choice of completing an agreed-upon longer-term goal, so long as that person takes responsibility. This I believe, is a fundamental pillar of success for any company allowing their employees the freedom to pursue their own projects, timelines and milestones, so long as those are agreed upon by the respective managers to align them with the company’s goal. Finally, as the company is based in Japan which I am very amazed by and really like, it very nicely blends the work environment with a place that I really like living in.