WARPSPACE is Where Curiosity Grows. What is the Reason Why Robot Lovers Jumped Into the Space Industry?
The 10th member interview will feature engineer Raafat Ahmed. Raafat was greeted as the first non-Japanese employee of WARPSPACE in September 2021.
Why did Raafat, who specializes in human-robot interaction, decide to dive into the space industry? He talked about what Raafat values in his work and his expectations for WARPSPACE.
I want to learn robot technology
-First of all, I will ask from your background. Where are you from? How long have you been living in Japan?
I’m from Egypt. I came to Japan about 10 years ago to get a Ph.D. I was enrolled in Osaka City University and majored in human-robot interaction!
-What is human-robot interaction?
It is a research area that understands, designs, and evaluates robot systems that are used by humans and that work in coexistence with humans.
-Why did you choose Japan as your study abroad destination?
No other country has as high level of robot technology as Japan. In this field, I think Japan’s technological capabilities are so high that there are really no competitors.
-That’s right. How long have you been interested in robots and machines?
I have been interested in robotics since I was a child, and I took out parts from home appliances and made devices! The thing I remember best is the vacuum cleaner. When I tried to make a device using vacuum cleaner parts, I broke it and had a fight with my family….
Anyway, I like robots, which is also the reason why I decided to come to Japan. After obtaining a Ph.D. from Osaka City University, I worked as a Ph.D. system engineer at the Kyoto Institute of Advanced Technology. After that, I changed jobs to a robotics-related company. The level of AI and robot interaction technology of this company is very high, and I learned a lot.
During my PhD I was working as a system engineer for developing ean xoskeleton robot at the ATR. (Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International)
-I think you had a fulfilling life, but why did you decide to change jobs in the space industry?
There are many types of robots, such as those that can exercise and those that can cook, and there are various technologies that make it possible. Looking at a wide range of robot technologies at graduate school and at the place of employment, I could not find the next new challenge in the robot field.
I’m interested in everything in the world. And I’m the type who spares no effort to find out what I don’t know. When I got my Ph.D., I honestly thought it was enough. However, I was driven by curiosity and found the next challenge. Maybe everyone is like that.
Today I think I’m 100% full of curiosity, but tomorrow I’ll find a new interest and it’s 10%. So I will try again. It’s a repetition.
Then, I searched for something more interesting than the robot I liked since I was a kid, and arrived at the universe! The challenge of space is proof that companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin are hiring talented engineers.
Unexplored challenge = Creating a new history
-Even if you say space, there are various businesses and technologies. What did you find appealing about WARPSPACE?
It was a coincidence that I learned about WARPSPACE. The timing was good and I think I was lucky to be able to join.
WARPSPACE is developing OISLSs services for satellites. I like the new and unique way of thinking about this technology. We hope that if the service is realized and communication is strengthened, it will contribute to increasing access to space.
To realize something that no one has done yet is to make history. Just as the manned lunar landing of the Apollo program has been marked in history, the construction of optical communication infrastructure will be a major step for humankind.
-What kind of work are you in charge of now?
I am involved in various tasks. We are designing the necessary components of satellites and conducting experiments on ground stations. It is all interesting because almost all the work is new to me!
-Are there any things that you find unique in the space field? Do you make use of your knowledge of robotics in your daily work?
I agree. In robotics, we design robots to do what we want. The result is an approach and technology for controlling robots. I think this knowledge is useful for downloading images taken by satellites on the ground.
It will take a long time to realize the service we are aiming for. It takes a challenge to achieve something. The challenge is fun. Through development, I feel that my curiosity is growing steadily.
Someday, I think it will be interesting to design a system that allows robots to communicate with each other by utilizing the knowledge in Warpspace!
It is only with the support of the family that we can challenge high goals.
-In Warpspace, there are many members who work in remote work, but it seems that Mr.Ahmed often comes to work.
I like coming to the office. For me, coming to the office every day means not stopping to reach my goals. It might be like going to the gym. That’s why I’m still in the office today.
-Did you get used to the atmosphere of the company?
It’s my first time working, but the atmosphere inside WARPSPACE is friendly and it feels like a family trying to reach their goals together. Sometimes it’s fun to talk about something different from work. I feel really happy to be in the WARPSPACE.
WARPSPACE has a wide range of engineers, from young to senior, who are all striving to reach their goals and are fascinating. For example, when I have something to tell, I think everyone takes it seriously.
-Finally, I would like to ask you about the WARPSPACE Code of Conduct, “Compass of Behavior.” Which is your cherishing?
Our Compass of Behavior
02. Goal oriented
03. Decide with fact
04. Chase one chance
05. Resilient spirit
06. Respect your crew
07. Love family
09. Be attractive
The seventh, “Love family” is mine. This is because we can take on challenges only with the presence of family members and people close to us, so we want to put time and health with our families first.
I think that’s right. You can’t take care of either your work or your family. Achieving high goals still requires family support. I want to challenge my goals while going back and forth between work and family time!