Meet Luke De Bono

Author: Jenny Hanson

This week’s blog post is the first entry of a six part series showing you the members that comprise Elite Robotics. Recently we’ve expanded our team and wanted to take the opportunity to introduce everyone individually. First up is Luke De Bono; one of three co-founders that created Elite Robotics in 2015.
Read on to learn all about Luke:

How old are you and where are you from originally?

I’m 24 years old and I’m from Glenning Valley on the Central Coast of NSW.

Where did you attend University and what did you study?

I have a degree in Industrial Design from the University of Newcastle.

What is Elite Robotics and what does the company do?

Elite Robotics is a start-up company specializing in bringing autonomous technology into the home. Our goal is to enter the consumer market by creating a line of household products, starting with an autonomous lawnmower. We intend to make these products accessible to the masses by combining high-end technology with sophisticated mathematics and affordable sensors.

How did this start-up form?

The idea for the company was born one morning during the train ride to Uni from the Central Coast to Newcastle. My close friend and fellow co-founder, Nathan Bartlett, proposed the idea of combining our degrees to build robots. After we started running through some ideas Nathan suggested his friend, Sahil Harriram, as a natural fit for a third co-founder. Together the three of us dreamed up the idea for this company and here we are a year or so later putting our vision to the test and making it a reality.

As the Chief Design Officer for Elite Robotics, what do your duties consist of?

As the CDO, I’m responsible for all of the design work from concept sketch right up to the prototype. Throughout the product development process, I work with engineers to make the design as suitable as possible for the given application. In addition I do all the graphic design for our marketing campaigns; ranging from logos and images to renderings of our products.

What peaked your interest in robotics/automation?

Growing up I became interested in conceptual designs from seeing them in movies like Ironman, as well as video games and T.V. The idea of developing new technology to produce something unique and exciting led me to study Industrial Design at Uni. Being able to create something new with just a pen, paper and an idea makes the possibilities for innovation endless—especially since I get to work together with some of the most talented people around!

Where is Elite Robotics currently, in terms of product development?

We have almost finished developing the first prototype of our autonomous lawnmower. We will begin initial tests very soon; I’m excited to see how it goes and how we can improve our product for the future. So what if we fail? We can only learn and improve from our mistakes, and that’s the best part. Until we experience failure, we can never truly move forward.

Biggest challenge?

I think the hardest part will be developing our own platform, but I also think it will be the most rewarding. We need to continue to design, build and test our ideas to come up with the best possible version of our product. Working within our diverse team will be a beneficial way to create a product that works for both engineers, designers and the end users of our product.

Biggest triumph?

Obtaining the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) Grant this winter from Jobs for NSW was by far the most financial assistance we have received to date. It has allowed us to continue on with our current project deadlines and gives us a six month runway for product testing & development.

Most important lesson learnt through this process?

In terms of robotics, I’ve learnt so much about mechatronics, parts, coding, and I still have heaps to soak in. However I’m always learning new things from my fellow team members. I’m still blown away by the fact that Sahil coded a neural network to detect weeds & grass in just two weeks!

What are your goals for the future of Elite Robotics?

Next year:

Ideally we will have a commercial model of our autonomous lawnmower on the market that cuts grass at your local golf course or sports venue. We will continue to refine our consumer model for use in your own home in the near future.

Next 5 years:

We’d love to expand our team beyond just Newcastle. At this point, we hope our autonomous lawnmower is being sold and distributed within Australia and possibly around the world. We’d also like to begin designing & manufacturing more household robotic products for many uses around your home.

Next 10 years:

At this stage, our dream is to implement our autonomous solutions into cities across the globe. Our goal is to build the technology of the future– including autonomous vehicles, public transport, drones, space, etc.

When you’re not busy designing the future of our cities, what do you do in your free time?

My free time consists of tinkering in my shed with some project cars, occasional gaming or being in the company of friends enjoying life!

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