UMBC Data Science Meetup: Data Analytics Challenges in Healthcare


Best Practices for Handling Data Analytics Challenges in Healthcare


Aaron Wilkowitz
Customer Engineer, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Google

5:30 – 7:00 pm EDT, Tuesday, 15 September 2020
free and online; register here to get the link


Aaron specializes in Healthcare & Federal and has worked with numerous private companies & federal agencies around reaching better healthcare outcomes and minimizing fraud through smarter data. Previously Aaron worked at a predictive analytics firm APT helping Fortune 200 companies drive to better data-driven decisions.

Agenda
5:30 – 5:35 Welcome
5:35 – 6:30 Aaron Wilkowitz Talk
6:30 – 6:45 Q&A

talk: Matt Green on Privacy-Preserving Cryptographic Protocols, 12-1 EDT Fri. 9/4, online

 

The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab presents


Privacy-Preserving Cryptographic Protocols 


Professor Matthew Green
Johns Hopkins University

12:00-1:00 pm Friday, 4 September 2020
WebEx: http://umbc.webex.com/meet/sherman
  


We investigate the problem of automating the development of adaptive chosen-ciphertext attacks on systems that contain vulnerable format oracles. Rather than simply automate the execution of known attacks, we consider a more challenging problem: to programmatically derive a novel attack strategy, given only a machine-readable description of the plaintext verification function and the malleability characteristics of the encryption scheme. We present a new set of algorithms that use SAT and SMT solvers to reason deeply over the design of the system, producing an automated attack strategy that can decrypt protected messages entirely.

Matthew Green is an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute. His research includes techniques for privacy-enhanced information storage, anonymous payment systems, and bilinear map- based cryptography. He is one of the creators of the Zerocash protocol, which is used by the Zcash cryptocurrency, and a founder of an encryption startup Zeutro. He was formerly a partner in Independent Security Evaluators, a custom security evaluation and design consultancy, and currently consults independently. From 1999-2003, he served as a senior technical staff member at AT&T Laboratories/Research in Florham Park, NJ. email: Dr. Green writes a popular blog on applied cryptography, A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering, A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering


Host: Alan T. Sherman,, Support for this event was provided in part by the NSF under SFS grant DGE-1753681. The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab meets biweekly Fridays. All meetings are open to the public. Upcoming CDL Meetings:

  • The Cyber Defense Lab hosts biweekly talks on Fridays 12-1pm.

New NSF grant to improve human-robot interaction

person interacting with a virtual robot
Professor Ferraro in UMBC’s Pi2 visualization laboratory talking to a virtual robot.

CSEE faculty receive NSF award to help robots learn tasks by interacting naturally with people


UMBC Assistant Professors Cynthia Matuszek (PI) and Francis Ferraro (Co-PI), along with senior staff scientist at JHU-APL John Winder (Co-PI) received a three-year NSF award as part of the National Robotics Initiative on Ubiquitous Collaborative Robots. The award for Semi-Supervised Deep Learning for Domain Adaptation in Robotic Language Acquisition will advance the ability of robots to learn from interactions with people using spoken language and gestures in a variety of situations.

This project will enable robots to learn to perform tasks with human teammates from language and other modalities, and then transfer what they have learned to other robots with different capabilities in order to perform different tasks. This will ultimately allow human-robot teaming in domains where people use varied language and instructions to complete complex tasks. As robots become more capable and ubiquitous, they are increasingly moving into complex, human-centric environments such as workplaces and homes.

Being able to deploy useful robots in settings where human specialists are stretched thin, such as assistive technology, elder care, and education, has the potential to have far-reaching impacts on human quality of life. Achieving this will require the development of robots that learn, from natural interaction, about an end user’s goals and environment.

This work is intended to make robots more accessible and usable for non-specialists. In order to verify success and involve the broader community, tasks will be drawn from and tested in community Makerspaces, which are strongly linked with both education and community involvement. It will address how collaborative learning and successful performance during human-robot interactions can be accomplished by learning from and acting on grounded language. To accomplish this, the project will revolve around learning structured representations of abstract knowledge with goal-directed task completion, grounded in a physical context.

There are three high-level research thrusts: leverage grounded language learning from many sources, capture and represent the expectations implied by language, and use deep hierarchical reinforcement learning to transfer learned knowledge to related tasks and skills. In the first, new perceptual models to learn an alignment among a robot’s multiple, heterogeneous sensor and data streams will be developed. In the second, synchronous grounded language models will be developed to better capture both general linguistic and implicit contextual expectations that are needed for completing shared tasks. In the third, a deep reinforcement learning framework will be developed that can leverage the advances achieved by the first two thrusts, allowing the development of techniques for learning conceptual knowledge. Taken together, these advances will allow an agent to achieve domain adaptation, improve its behaviors in new environments, and transfer conceptual knowledge among robotic agents.

The research award will support both faculty and students working in the Interactive Robotics and Language lab on this task. It includes an education and outreach plan designed to increase participation by and retention of women and underrepresented minorities (URM) in robotics and computing, engaging with UMBC’s large URM population and world-class programs in this area.

Prof. Tülay Adali receives prestigious Humboldt Research Award for advanced data analysis


Prof. Tülay Adali receives prestigious Humboldt Research Award for advanced data analysis


UMBC’s Tülay Adali, professor of computer science and electrical engineering (CSEE) and distinguished university professor, has received the prestigious Humboldt Research Award. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation describes the award as presented to scholars “whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future.”

UMBC Professor Tülay Adali
Tülay Adali. Photo courtesy of Adali.

Adali is the director of UMBC’s Machine Learning for Signal Processing Lab. Her research focuses on developing flexible methods for data fusion. These innovative methods enable researchers to extract powerful features from multi-modal data by letting them fully interact with and inform each other.

A main application area of her work has been medical image analysis, where these features are used in diagnosis as well as treatment planning and evaluation. Adali and her research collaborators are also exploring applications of these methods in remote sensing, misinformation detection, and gesture and video analysis. 

A years-long research collaboration

Humboldt Award recipients spend up to one year conducting collaborative research at institutions in Germany. Adali plans to continue to work with her longtime collaborator Peter Schreier, who is based in Paderborn University. Through a research connection that has spanned many years, Adali says that her lab and Schreier’s continue to have wonderful synergy. 

Together, Adali and Schreier have worked to address problems such as data-driven discovery of relationships in multi-modal data, and in particular, when the sample sizes are small. “This is a key practical problem in many applications, especially in the medical domain,” Adali shares. She notes that this provides an important starting point for their current work. 

“Things are moving along, even though I could not travel this summer, as we started having weekly research meetings between our groups,” Adali says. “This is a valuable experience for my students. In the past, we had hosted Schreier and his students here at UMBC, some of my students had met Schreier and his students at conferences before, and these initial physical connections matter. I am hoping we will all be able to travel again, soon.”

Receiving the award

As a Humboldt Award recipient, Adali was invited to attend a gathering in June with her fellow awardees, hailing from universities around the world. Due to COVID-19, the event was moved online. Awardees had an opportunity to meet the German president virtually as part of the event. 

While she wishes the event could have been held in person, Adali says that it gave her an exciting opportunity to connect with other Humboldt awardees and learn more about scientist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt.

In 2015, Curtis Menyuk, professor of CSEE, received a Humboldt Award.


Adapted from a UMBC News article written by Megan Hanks. Banner image: Tülay Adali, fourth from left, with the members of her lab. Photo courtesy of Adali.

Two UMBC student teams win USM COVID-19 app challenge


Two UMBC student teams win USM COVID-19 app challenge


Earlier this summer, the University System of Maryland (USM) COVID-19 Task Force invited members of the USM community to develop mobile apps that would help Maryland residents respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the six winning teams just announced are two groups from UMBC. One team developed an app to support the healthcare of people with COVID-19. The other focused on connecting residents with dining options and restaurant policies as they change during the pandemic.

Community participation

Each of the six winning teams received a $3,000 award, provided by UMBC’s Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. The apps submitted were reviewed by a panel of judges from large corporations, start-up companies, and academia. 

Undergraduate and graduate students were invited to participate, as well as university staff, faculty, postdoctoral researchers, members of USM-affiliated startup companies, and small businesses. Winners hailed from UMBC, University of Baltimore, Towson University, and University of Maryland, College Park.

Tracking health conditions of COVID-19 patients

In the community category, Kirubel Tolosa M.S. ‘23, information systems; Pradeep Margasahayam Prakash M.S. ‘21, information systems; and Raghav Deivachilai M.S. ‘23, computer science, created an app called Follow-up. The app enables healthcare providers to track the condition of people with COVID-19 who are isolating at home. By receiving regular symptom updates, physicians and nurses are able to more easily follow-up with their patients as needed.

The Follow-up team entered the app challenge with the goal of developing an app that would help address the spread of the virus and its impact on affected individuals. At the same time, they knew they had to design and prototype their app in a short time frame, so their scope and requirements had to be manageable.

“This challenge has taught us the value of teamwork and collaboration,” said Tolosa, on behalf of the group. “We are looking forward to working on this app further to put it to use in a real-world setting.”

Supporting restaurants during COVID-19

The app Snuggrub, developed by Emily Sullivan ‘21, computer science, and Dominic Crofoot ‘19, computer science, was a winner in the student category. Sullivan and Crofoot focused on the way that many formerly full-service restaurants shifted to pick-up only service or outdoor dining during the pandemic. At the same time, dining regulations, guidance, and options began changing frequently. They developed a way for users to stay up-to-date on information about nearby restaurants without needing to contact individual businesses to ask the same questions repeatedly. 

The app allows users to stay informed and receive real-time updates while making decisions based on current information. It also supports restaurants in connecting with customers and providing them with the information they need to dine safely.

The opportunity to develop an app to help address a challenge facing people across the state was appealing to Sullivan and Crofoot because it allowed them to put their skills to the test. They met when they were both interns at the Anne Arundel County Office of Information Technology. While Sullivan is still a UMBC student (and interning with the federal government), Crofoot is currently a full stack developer for Anne Arundel County.

“Dominic and I both have experience creating applications from our jobs, but this process was totally different since we were creating something from the ground up and we were doing it with such a small team and short deadline as well,” says Sullivan. “This definitely was a learning experience in personal discipline and timeline management.”

Adapted from a UMBC News article by Megan Hanks

UMBC collaborates with MxD to develop cybersecurity curriculum for workers in manufacturing

UMBC Professor Nilanjan Banerjee. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

UMBC collaborates with MxD on cybersecurity curriculum for workers in manufacturing


UMBC researchers will collaborate with the Chicago-based MxD to develop a curriculum and online platform for manufacturing professionals to increase their cybersecurity skills and to protect manufacturing plants from cyber breaches. The work is funded by a $650,000 grant from the Office of Economic Adjustment, under the U.S. Department of Defense. 

MxD is one of 14 federally-supported institutes known collectively as Manufacturing USA. It has awarded millions of dollars to research and development projects across 35 states to advance U.S. manufacturing practices and increase global competitiveness. This UMBC collaboration will be the first initiative focused on increasing manufacturing workers’ knowledge of cybersecurity.

The content of this program is completely new, as there are no existing platforms that focus on the intersection of cybersecurity and manufacturing, says Nilanjan Banerjee, principal investigator on the grant. 

Banerjee, professor of computer science and electrical engineering (CSEE) at UMBC, shares, “The program will accelerate training of practitioners in the manufacturing industry in cybersecurity. It will also expand UMBC’s impact on cybersecurity education in the manufacturing sector.”

Intersection of cyber and manufacturing

Donna Ruginski. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

Banerjee will collaborate with a number of colleagues at UMBC to develop a curriculum tailored for people who already work in the manufacturing industry. Project co-PIs include Donna Ruginski, executive director of cybersecurity initiatives at UMBC, and Keith J Bowman, dean of UMBC’s College of Engineering and Information Technology. Alan Sherman, professor of CSEE; Linda Olivia, assistant professor of education; and Megean Garvin, director of research and assessment for the Maryland Center for Computing Education, will assess the curriculum developed to ensure it meets program goals.

Bowman helped establish the connections between UMBC and MxD, and is eager to watch the work develop. “This project fully leverages MxD, UMBC Training Centers, and UMBC assets in cybersecurity, manufacturing, and training,” says Bowman. “I have known MxD team members, including Federico Sciammarella, president and chief technology officer of MxD, ever since its origins, and I look forward to building on this collaboration.”

The first step of the multi-phased project will identify the skills most needed to protect manufacturing facilities from cyberattacks on their computer systems and machinery. UMBC and MxD will create a short-term training program for manufacturing professionals to develop these skills. 

“People will come out of this program with a certification that shows they have the tools to be successful in a cybersecurity role in manufacturing,” said Lizabeth Stuck, senior director of MxD Learn, the institute’s workforce development arm. “This has the dual benefit of upskilling workers who may be sidelined during the COVID-19 crisis and increasing the security of U.S. manufacturers from cyber-attacks.”

Addressing current needs

Banerjee explains that the recent COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased unemployment and a need for more opportunities for workers to quickly expand their skill sets. With this in mind, the program will be designed for workers to complete in less than a year and through a web-based format.

For maximum flexibility, the platform will offer both synchronous and asynchronous material. It will be launched and led by UMBC Training Centers, a not-for-profit owned by UMBC that offers professional and technical training in areas such as cybersecurity, project management, and leadership and innovation. The platform will likely launch in late January 2021. 

“This program will have a direct impact on the Defense Industrial Base Supply Chain,” says Ruginski. “It will create a robust workforce that has the cybersecurity skills required to assist companies in staying secure in the fast-paced cybersecurity manufacturing industry.”


Adapted from a UMBC News article written by Megan Hanks

2020 MCC Virtual Career Fair


2020 MCC Virtual Career Fair


The Maryland Career Consortium (MCC) consists of career center directors and staff of fifteen colleges and universities in the greater Baltimore region, including UMBC.

MCC collectively facilitates the career exploration and development of our students and alumni through collaborative job fairs and networking events. Through these programs, MCC seeks to support the workforce development needs of the region. The consortium also provides an ongoing forum for collaboration and broad-based support for the professional development of its members.

The annual MCC Career Fair provides students (undergraduate and graduate) and alumni from all member institutions the chance to connect with employers around the region. Discover career opportunities that may be your professional calling. This event is just like an in-person job fair, but online! Discover career opportunities that may be your professional calling. This event is just like an in-person job fair, but online! It’s an easy and efficient way to find full-time jobs, internships, and co-ops.

This recruiting event is complimentary for students and alumni across all majors and degrees. Get more information HERE, register HERE, and, if you are already registered, login HERE.

Unique research experiences open doors for UMBC’s Class of 2020

Danilo Symonette, right, with his friends at a restaurant. Photo courtesy of Symonette.

Unique research experiences open doors for UMBC’s Class of 2020


Danilo Symonette, Robin Bailey, and Hye-Jin Park are earning their UMBC degrees this month having researched in top labs and being invited to present their findings to colleagues across the country. They sound like phenomenal Ph.D. students, but they’re actually all undergraduates.

Symonette ‘20, computer science, has earned one of the most prestigious graduate fellowships in the U.S. after completing years of research in artificial intelligence. Bailey ‘20, biological sciences, conducted research at Harvard Medical School’s Joslin Diabetes Center. Hye-Jin Park ‘20, psychology, researched the experiences of Asian immigrants in the United States, including discrimination and resilience. 

Their interests vary greatly, but each celebrates the impact that UMBC mentors have had on their college careers, including the chance to access incredible opportunities.

Finding a community

When Symonette transferred to UMBC from the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata, Maryland, he knew he wanted to study computer science and conduct research on artificial intelligence, which he sees as a “revolutionary” field. He quickly found a supportive community of friends and mentors at UMBC, and became a McNair Scholar. 

UMBC’s McNair Scholars program is a Federal TRIO program that supports students from disadvantaged and underrepresented groups in preparing for graduate education. The program emphasizes intensive research experiences and mentoring. Symonette’s McNair mentors helped him define and achieve his goals and navigate challenges along the way.

Danilo Symonette, left, and two of his friends at UMBC. Photo courtesy of Symonette.

“Being a McNair Scholar has entirely shaped my experience at UMBC and given me the community I needed to support my ambitions and pursue opportunities,” says Symonette. The program also introduced him to some of his favorite people at UMBC.

The value of mentorship

Don Engel, assistant vice president for research, is Symonette’s advisor on the award that supports his artificial intelligence work. He has been one of his most impactful mentors over the years. “Don Engel gave me the freedom to explore any and all of my ideas,” says Symonette. “He advised me on career decisions, wrote countless letters of recommendation, and always supported and believed in me no matter how lofty my goals seemed.” 

Engel connected Symonette with the neuro-AI lab at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, where Symonette is currently interning. Symonette accepted a full-time job offer to work at APL starting in June. This allowed him to explore his interests at the intersection of computer science, neuroscience, and psychology, and further refine his graduate school career goals. 

“Danilo is one of the most talented and motivated students with whom I’ve had the pleasure to work. He has been a wonderful teammate to a broad range of student, faculty, and external research collaborators,” shares Engel. “I’m looking forward to following Danilo’s career, which I’m sure will be exciting and impactful.”

Symonette has also found mentors outside his discipline who have helped him develop a well-rounded perspective. They include Simon Stacey, director of the Honors College; former UMBC professor Marie DesJardins, now a dean at Simmons College; and Christy Ford Chapin, associate professor of history. Symonette says that Chapin helped him elevate his grad school essays and fellowship applications “to the highest level they could be.”

Exploring opportunities beyond UMBC

In addition to connecting Symonette with mentors, the McNair Scholars program also provided him with travel funding to visit several graduate schools across the country. 

In 2018, he completed the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) summer research program and focused on machine learning. The following year, he attended the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program at the Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, which was sponsored by the Southern Regional Education Board. “I saw a slew of Ph.D. students from underrepresented backgrounds come on stage and encourage me to pursue graduate education,” Symonette shares.

In 2019, he headed to MIT and studied models that detect confusion in features that rely on voice. His work was used as a foundation to develop sensors for a teacher education platform, to make it more effective. 

“That experience equipped me with the inspiration, motivation, and knowledge to plan my next steps,” he says. Over the next 18 months, Symonette explains, “I was accepted to the top computer science Ph.D. programs in the world and won the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.” 

Today, he describes the LSAMP and McNair programs as “the vehicles through which I arrived at many of the pivotal moments in my journey.”

Inspiring younger students

While focusing on his courses and research at UMBC, Symonette also enjoyed gaining early experience as an educator. He served as a teaching assistant for Computer Science 202, inspired by his own earlier challenges with the course. 

“I struggled a lot in CS202 when I came from community college,” Symonette recalls. “Seeing all the errors and mistakes troubling students during office hours and being able to help them through those same situations…was extremely rewarding.” 

Symonette also found ways to connect with younger students, to encourage them to pursue degrees and careers in computing. He served as the head of outreach for UMBC’s Computer Science Education Club, establishing strong partnerships with local high schools.

“I wanted to expand our outreach efforts so that more people could volunteer,” he says. He connected with Lori Hardesty, associate director for applied learning and community engagement at UMBC’s Shriver Center, to ensure the program would have the structure to be successful in the long term. 

“We managed to get a consistent group of students volunteering at Landsdowne High School last semester and supporting the high school’s computer science and robotics club,” says Symonette. “It’s been great to connect with high school students, especially at a school like Landsdowne. There are students from similar backgrounds as me that I have a chance to inspire. It continues to motivate me to do research in AI and education.” 

After working at APL for a year, Symonette will begin a Ph.D. program in computer science at Stanford University in fall 2021, with the goal of becoming a professor. “I’m looking forward to broadening my perspective, accessing opportunities, and developing as a researcher and educator—everything that comes with studying in a top-tier Ph.D. program,” he says. “I can’t wait to bring all of that back to my community.” 


You can read more about Robin Bailey and Hye-Jin Park in the UMBC News article from which this was excerpted. Adapted from a UMBC News article written by Megan Hanks.

$ git remote <graduation>

 

$ git remote <graduation>

 

Here is an opportunity for students (undergrad and grad) who will graduate anytime in 2020 (i.e., May, August, or December) and use GitHub. 

$ git remote <graduation> is an online graduation ceremony being held by GitHub to celebrate recent (and planned) graduates of the Class of 2020.  If you have a GitHub account, you can apply to participate by midnight (PDT) Monday, May 25.

If you do, you’ll be recognized by GitHub, get some swag mailed to you, and may be selected for highlighting during the live-stream event on the GitHub Education Twitch Channel at Noon ET on Monday, 15 June 2020.

You can apply on GitHub by following the detailed instructions in this GitHub repository. There are three ‘tiers’ to the celebration.

Tiers reward the effort graduates make for this celebration. By adding yourself to the yearbook and writing a post on DEV, you will get access to extra benefits. Make sure you submit your pull request before midnight Monday, May 25th PDT.

Tier 1 ✉: Add yourself to the Yearbook by submitting a pull request to this repository and filling the swag shipping form.

Tier 2 🛍: Follow the steps on Tier 1 and write a post on DEV about a project you’ve built while being a student. You can use this template to get started!

Tier 3 🏅: The best project posts on DEV will be highlighted live on stream during the graduation.”

We thank Computing Engineering alumna Sarah Khalife (BS ‘14) who now works at GitHub for sharing this opportunity with us.

Robots and COVID-19; An Interview with Balaji Viswanathan, CEO of Invento Robotics

May 6, 2020, Interview by Cheryl Dunigan


Balaji Viswanathan started his career at Microsoft, and moved from there to develop startups in such diverse areas as robotics, education and finance. He has embraced the true calling of an entrepreneur, using long term goals to develop companies that actively seek to make a global impact. This is exemplified by his Bengaluru-based company, Invento Robotics, which is currently using its humanoid robots to provide a myriad of services, from taking temperatures to collecting patient information to bringing medications and food to patients in isolation wards, in an effort to fight COVID-19.

For the UMBC community, perhaps the most interesting fact about Mr. Viswanathan is that he is an alumnus of UMBC, graduating with an MS in Computer Science in 2007.

How did UMBC prepare you for your career as an entrepreneur?

I learned robotics and AI at UMBC with Professors Finin, Oates, DesJardins and Peng. I took masters level courses in the topic (AI, Artifical Neural Networks and Robotics) published a workshop paper on Swarm robotics 15 years ago that we are now implementing in the field.

A lot of ideas talked about at the Ebiquity lab by Finin, Joshi et. al. were years later implemented in the industry, only under different names. UMBC’s work was quite ahead of its time.

Please talk a bit about any faculty or staff that had a positive impact on your experience as a student at UMBC.

I was a TA for 2 years at UMBC. This gave me exposure to a variety of faculty and their teaching methods. I liked the laid back approach of Yun Peng, the very energetic approach of Tim Oates and the to-the-point approach of Marie desJardins.

What’s one piece of career advice you would give to current UMBC engineering, biotech and/or IT students?

What Universities think of now, industries will plan 10 years from now. Don’t forget to dream and don’t be guided by what industries want now. You have to pull the industry rather than allow industry’s mediocrity to pull you.

What was your biggest takeaway from your time at Microsoft?

I have never encountered as many smart people as I did at Microsoft. And despite that, the company was struggling at that time. My biggest takeaway was it takes far beyond just having talent to succeed in business. I saw so many great ideas — like App Store, multi touch interfaces get buried only to be used later by Apple and other companies.

You are the most followed writer on Quora, a question-and-answer website. Of the thousands of questions you have answered, which one sticks in your mind the most?

My favourite one that I have also pinned is recounting my experience of meeting my childhood idol — the famed scientist Dr. Abdul Kalam, who was President of India at the time.

On Quora, you discussed how aspiring entrepreneurs can convert crises into opportunities. Can you discuss the role a widespread problem or crisis played in the development of your startups?

We were building healthcare related tech for over 3 years, but until COVID hit there was no demand for them. Thus, we put it in cold storage. However, when COVID hit China we thought it was time to pull those ideas from cold storage and revive the company with it. We were heavily dependent on events & hospitality industry and our customers came to a grounding halt. We had to execute a fast pivot.

You have developed many robots to help in the fight against COVID-19. Mitra provides patient screening, and Astra is remote-controlled and can disinfect a standard-sized room in 15 minutes using UV rays. What is the timeline for bringing these kinds of robots to the commercial market?

The Mitra is already commercial in the market and getting deployed in hospitals across India. The Astra is going through testing and certification and should be commercial by end of May. The RoboDoc — our dream product — might take about 6 months to be commercial.

In addition to being used for patient screening at hospitals, the temperature sensor attachment that your team has developed has enormous distribution possibilities (in airports, sporting facilities, etc…).  Which functions of your robots, either current or in production, do you think will potentially have the greatest impact on public health in the future?

The ability to have Level 2 autonomy with 80% of the time the robot moving around in predictable, low risk environments and using the help strategically in 20% of the risky situations is the core of what we build at Invento. These could be used in a range of situations including disinfection, surveillance patrol, takeout from restaurant etc. While people always think of robot or human, this approach puts a robot+human like you in front of your PC.

Are you interested in using your robots in biosafety level 4 research facilities for vaccine development?

We don’t yet have the capability.

In a former interview you stated, “As an entrepreneur in the mid-20s, we are more prone to the “shiny object syndrome” where a lot of different things look attractive. Age and wisdom bring more focus and stability.”Has the COVID-19 crisis caused you to rethink the long term direction of Invento Robotics or any of your other ventures?

One thing I have learned is that most people including investors cannot predict the future of technology. Almost every futuristic prediction has been wrong in its entry time or their impact. That means we have to stick to our vision for the long term ignoring the noise. At the same time we have to look for sudden route changes along the way.

I will give this example. Imagine you are driving to the Niagara Falls. Along the way, you should not change your destination, but can take small detours and re-plan the route based on traffic conditions and accidents.

You have said that some of your robots will become affordable for the average consumer in 5 or so years. What do you see-2030 looking like in terms of the roles of robots in everyday life?

In 2030, I see robots as common as computers and smartphones now. You might have a dozen of them in your home doing everything from clean, engaging children, taking care of the elderly, and cooking.

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