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Looking for career advice? One-to-one career conversations are just a phone call away with the Alumni Advisor Network. iRobot Computer Vision Scientist Manjunath Narayana ’14 shares insights about his job and industry trends.

  1. Can you describe what your job entails?

    As a computer vision and robotics scientist, I am responsible for developing new technology that enables a robot to understand its surroundings based on visual information received from cameras. My job involves building prototypes for new robots, testing them rigorously, and demonstrating the technology to a point where it is a feasible robot for consumers.

  2. How has your career path led to your current job?

    I had always wanted to work with artificial intelligence technologies and obtained my masters and PhD degrees in computer science with that goal. My research at the University of Massachusetts was on some cutting edge problems in computer vision - the field of computer science that deals with intelligent processing of images and video. My PhD research led me to internship opportunities during my study and several interesting full-time positions upon completing my degree. I chose to work with a new computer vision research group for metaio, a company that was the world leader in augmented reality technology where we developed several new technologies in the field. These new technologies are also critical in the robotics industry, which is how I got involved with robotics at iRobot.

  3. What advice can you give to students who are looking to get involved in your industry?

    Internships are very important and set you apart from other candidates. They lead to development of skills that are not acquired in school, such as the ability to work in a group, communicate, and prioritize tasks.

  4. What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

    Building new robots that no one else has imagined is very exciting.

  5. What aspect of your job has been the most challenging or surprising?

    The path from a proven technology to a successful consumer robot is not trivial. There are a lot of critical steps including solid market research, good engineering practices, and effective manufacturing pipelines, which are key to going from a prototype to a mass-produced robot that consumers would love and purchase.

  6. What do you believe is the future of your industry?

    Recent breakthroughs in the field of machine learning, which is the field of making computers learn patterns without explicitly programming them, have opened up many exciting directions in robotics and computer vision. Consumer robots, personal assistants, and autonomous vehicles are some of the new technology areas that have enormous growth potential. I am thrilled to be part of this industry.

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