The first secondment* in the LIFEBOTS Exchange project was completed when Artur Serrano returned from a two-months stay with IDMIND in Portugal. Serrano is a professor in assistive technologies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, his research areas are immersive spaces and social robots.

During his stay he defined common strategies with IDMIND within the scope of the LIFEBOTS Exchange project and started a collaboration on a new social robot. Serrano also draftet a couple of chapters for a book. After the secondment he took the time to answer on some questions about his experience.

Have you seen any potential for research and innovation between NTNU and IDMind?
Yes, we have started a collaboration in the design of a new robot called ELMO which will be a little companion with strong personalities (yes, several personalities).

Which knowledge will you bring back to NTNU?
Insights on the real production of the robots. Greater understanding of the whole process from ordering components to engineering of the electronics. As well as the mechanics, the forms, and the software, and how this can be a part of a research oriented project.

What is the most interesting you have encountered here?
How a small team (IDMIND has 11 people) can work together having complementary skills and backgrounds.

What were the main challenges?
The main challenge was to find a routine where my activity could integrate with the company’s activity, having so different realities. In the end it was a great experience and I have learned a lot, but I have also learned how to improve until my next secondment.

Any recommendations to future secondees?
Try to find your routines as soon as possible, both your professional and personal routines. Time flies. Try to keep to these routines although they may feel challenging or unnatural in the beginning. Also, be faithful to what you enjoy in your free time, but also adapt to what your new environment has to offer. In my case I like swimming and tango, but I also enjoyed an after-work beer in the warm evenings of Portugal. The most popular beer size is called “imperial” and is 20cl, this allows you to drink it all while it is still cold.

*A secondment is used describe a work where an employee from their establishment to take up a different role for a temporary period.

LIFEBOTS Exchange is a project from the Horizon 2020 programme that promotes international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral cooperation in the area of social robotics technology for care.