Hack Chat Transcript, Part 2

A event log for Life at JPL Hack Chat

It ain't rocket surgery. No wait, it is...

LutetiumLutetium 08/21/2019 at 20:030 Comments

morgan12:35 PM
(the signs in the court yard is my favorite piece)

James Finch joined  the room.12:36 PM

Adam12:36 PM
Do you need any sort of security clearance for the work that you do ?

morgan12:36 PM
would imagine they're part of the media dept.

morgan12:36 PM


The Studio at JPL

The Studio is a team of designers, artists, makers, strategists, and thinkers. We are passionate about helping scientists and engineers imagine the future, and giving people a sense of awe about the universe.

Read this on Nasa

arko12:36 PM
Not for the work I do

arko12:37 PM
@morgan oh yeah! I have not work with the studio, but I'm a fan :)

Gonçalo Nespral12:37 PM
Did most people who work at JPL go to top unis?

arko12:37 PM

James Finch12:37 PM
What software management tool(s) do you use?

baldwinngo081312:37 PM
I know an engineer at JPL who went to UC Merced, so not sure uni matters

arko12:38 PM
there are lots of folks from MIT, Caltech, etc.. but there are also folks like me from Cal Poly Pomona or whatever. Uni doesn't matter IMO

arko12:38 PM
I brought a bunch of PCBs and robots to my interview

arko12:38 PM
figured results speak louder than "i passed ECE 405"

ap-tech12:38 PM

arko12:39 PM
@James Finch we have a lot of in house tools, but generic things like MS Projects and JIRA are used too

James Finch12:40 PM
Are the change control processes still paper based or are they migrated to software apps?

Christopher Bero12:40 PM
Oh no, JIRA... *Your board has been updated [refresh]*

arko12:41 PM
software with paper backup

arko12:41 PM
custom in-house tools are a double edge sword. They allow for flexibility, but that also means that they can grow into these complex UX nightmares

arko12:43 PM
I should also mention, the 'prototype' project im working on

arko12:43 PM


de∫hipu12:44 PM
oh, shiny!

Christopher Bero12:44 PM

ap-tech12:44 PM
Awesome! :D

arko12:44 PM
It's called LLAMA. We build Rev 1.0 back in October and we are almost done building Rev 2.0, so you should be seeing a press release on that soon

arko12:45 PM

Christopher Bero12:45 PM

arko12:45 PM
This was actually the first project i've worked on here where I got a chance to drastically improve the design of something.

de∫hipu12:46 PM
what's the use case?

Christopher Bero12:46 PM
You're partnered with ARL?

Adam12:46 PM
What did you drastically improve the deisgn of?

ap-tech12:46 PM
What did you improve on it?

arko12:46 PM
We typically build one-off prototypes, but for this task we got to do the whole "I wish i changed that part and optimized that thing"

arko12:47 PM
I can't speak much about it yet, but at a very high level we made it less heavy and improved the power management /data system

Gonçalo Nespral12:48 PM
this is so cool

Christopher Bero12:48 PM

arko12:48 PM
@de∫hipu robotic mobility research for us. this is probably JPL's first truely dynamic robot.

de∫hipu12:48 PM
from the existence of fans I guess it's only good in Earth atmosphere

arko12:48 PM
we like to build quazi-static robot which perform very calculated movements

arko12:49 PM
I.e.- Robosimian

Do you see a quadruped robot as a viable platform for planetary exploration? As opposed to wheeled vehicles

arko12:49 PM


Christopher Bero12:49 PM

de∫hipu12:50 PM
I love the design of robosimian, I think the Interstellar would be a much better movie if the robots there were like that

Christopher Bero12:50 PM
Oh man, yeah I agree

de∫hipu12:50 PM
instead of those ridiculous black obelisk defying laws of mechanics

arko12:50 PM
@Dan Maloney Yeah, one research path is asteroid/low-gravity body interactions where you have to be dynamic

arko12:50 PM
Yeah i dont understand the interstellar robots

de∫hipu12:51 PM
I understand how they didn't want to have humanoids (sorry for OT)

James Finch12:52 PM
Learning from mission issues, are these designs moving in the direction of how to not get stuck? Maybe climbing potential?

arko12:52 PM

samy kamkar12:53 PM
Hi @arko can you please get me a ticket to Mars? kthx

Nicolas Tremblay12:53 PM
Looking at the progression in rovers in the picture earlier. Next one should be SUV sized with 24" wheels

Christopher Bero12:53 PM
Only if you're a robot.

Gonçalo Nespral12:53 PM
whoa samys here

arko12:53 PM
Well, we typically define the robots requirements up front and design against that.

arko12:53 PM
so if there's a 45 deg slop and we can only operate on 40deg max, we just dont do it

arko12:54 PM
but we got climbing robots:

James Finch12:54 PM
Do you work with exotic materials for the parts used in the prototypes?

James Finch12:54 PM

arko12:55 PM
@samy kamkar lol, the best I can do is

de∫hipu12:55 PM
I loved the lemur series, I wondered what happened to them

Christopher Bero12:55 PM
I was expecting a jumping robot. That thing looks intense.

arko12:56 PM
@James Finch I personally haven't, but i know folks here who are always using these wackly materials. I feel like i learn about a new material every week

arko12:56 PM
bonus points when the wacky material is available on Mcmaster

arko12:56 PM
off the top of my head, i recall Mars Pathfinder using memory wire

arko12:57 PM
shape-memory alloy that is

arko12:57 PM
Last few minutes here for me before going back to work

James Finch12:57 PM
:-) That would be awesome to experience. Wondering about electronics components also if there are proprietary materials the main stream consumer doesn't see much if at all. Any neat materials most don't see?

Adam12:58 PM
@arko, Thanks so much for taking time out of your schedule to do this, this was incredibly cool and I learned a lot, maybe we'll cross paths somewhere down the line again!

James Finch12:58 PM
Nice, memory alloys.

ap-tech12:58 PM
Awesome talk arko and cool channel :)

arko12:58 PM
I'll be around online again after 3:30 if you have more questions. As always, folks are welcome to DM or ask questions via email

Christopher Bero12:58 PM
Yeah, thanks arko!

Gonçalo Nespral12:58 PM
really cool talk @arko thanks so much :)

arko12:58 PM
:) thanks for having me! this was so much fun!

James Finch12:59 PM
Thanks arko!

arko12:59 PM
you all asked great questions :) my fingers hurt

arko12:59 PM
I'm also on twitter @arkorobotics if you have questions and I'm not online here

Boian Mitov12:59 PM
Thank you @arko :-) Keep up the good work! :-)

gmarmolburgos1:00 PM
Thank you very much @arko

arko1:00 PM

Hey Arko, you beat me to my wrap up! Thanks for hanging out with us today, we really appreciate it. Now that we're all jealous of your gig, I imagine they'll see some resumes coming in ;-)

Boian Mitov1:00 PM
You have new follower or Twitter @arko :-)

arko1:01 PM
Haha! We are always looking for hackers and tinkerers

arko1:01 PM

Thanks everyone else too for coming along for the trip. And don't forget that next week we have an update from Parallax with Ken and Chip Gracey -