Arushi Nath

Les inventifs” is a French TV series hosted by the illusionist Luc Langevin. In each episode, the series features the most ingenious inventions developed and created by young inventors. In 2022, they broadcasted 13 episodes of this series on UNIS TV5. Each episode runs for 30-minutes and features inventions by two youngsters.

Episode 13 of Les Inventifs: Featuring Arushi Nath and her MARS bot for space missions. Click here to view episode 13.

I was honored to be featured on their Episode 13 broadcast several times across the week of 29 May 2022. This was the first time I saw the episode which was recorded last year. In fact, the process started over 2 years ago when I received an email from one of the series producers. They had come across my work on building robots, battlebots, rockets and other science projects on my website and through the Little Inventors Challenge I participated in.

Episode 13 featured my robot: Make an Astronaut Smile (MARS) bot. I conceived this robot in 2019 as my entry to the Toronto Science Fair 2019. The MARS bot is aimed at astronauts spending an extended time at the International Space Station, going for long-term space travel to Mars, or on deep space missions. During these missions, the astronauts are away from their families and friends, and may feel sad, miss familiar things and have memories of life back on Earth.

The MARS bot identifies when astronauts are feeling sad through their facial emotions. It does so by using a webcam and algorithms written in Python. The algorithm analyses the webcam to first detect if there is a human face in it. It then uses the OpenCV algorithm to look at their mouth and eyes and determines their position to see if it is a smiling or a sad face. If it is a sad face, it tries to cheer them up by giving them a High-Five. The robot was built using household materials such as oil bottles, pool noodles, old clothes, shoes and styrofoam.

My Favorite Part of the Episode: Completing the challenge given by Canadian Astronaut David Saint-Jacques to have my robot detect scared faces

Shooting this episode was an awesome adventure. A team of 8 people from TV5 Montreal turned up at my home with a camera, mics, lights and other recording instruments. The team had a plan where I would tell them about my robot, including how I built it, the tools I used, the hardware and software used, and the time it took me to build the robot. I was then asked to give a demonstration of my robot.

A challenge was thrown at me during the recording of the Episode. A message from Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques was played for me. In the message, David challenged me to make my robot detect scared faces so that the Robot may come to assistance anytime the astronauts were scared during their space mission.

Explaining how my MARS bot worked

I was ready for this challenge as I had trained my robot to detect scared faces before the shooting. Through additional lines of coding in my algorithm, I could integrate this feature into my robot. The challenge was successfully completed, and you will be able to see it in the episode. This was definitely my most favourite part of the episode: how Luc Langevin got scared when a spider was placed on his hand, and my MARS Bot could easily detect his scared facial expressions.

I am thankful to the entire production team at TV5 and the Canadian Astronaut David Saint-Jacques for giving me this opportunity to demonstrate my STEM, Robotics and Coding skills to a wider audience. I am also thankful to Canadian astronauts: Jeremy Hansen, Jenni Sidey-Gibbons, and Joshua Kutryk, whom I met at the Canadian Space Agency in Montreal on winning the Canadian Space Agency SpaceApps Challenge in 2017. During my visit to the Canadian Space Agency, I saw several space robots, rovers, and the Canada Arm, which gave me new ideas on how I could support the Canadian space mission.

Thankful to all the Canadian Astronauts: Jenni Sidey-Gibbons, Joshua Kutryk, and Jeremy Hansen whom I had the opportunity to interact with at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA)

There are exciting things ahead for the Canadian space sector, and I want to be a part of it. There is the upcoming mission of Artemis I to test the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion capsule. But after that comes Artemis II, scheduled for 2024 or 2025, when four astronauts will travel in Orion and orbit the moon. On that capsule will be a yet-unnamed Canadian astronaut — the first to travel to deep space!

Thanks to the crew of the Les Inventifs/UNIS TV5 for recording the episode.

I hope to continue working on this project and improve my robot so it can detect several more facial emotions like surprise and excitement and support the Canadian and international astronauts!

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