Luke DeLuccia ’15, who got his start in robotics at HWS, is poised to play a central role in shaping the robots of the future since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania this spring with an engineering master’s degree in robotics. He has accepted a job with SRI International, a Stanford University spin-off that now serves as an independent, nonprofit research center.
“I became interested in robotics during my junior year at HWS,” says DeLuccia. “I took a class that focused on building small electromechanical devices, including robots. I learned quickly about the expanding world of robotics and the possibilities that lie within it.”
Intrigued by those possibilities, DeLuccia took advantage of the independent study option to dive deeper into the world of robotics. He completed two independent studies with Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science John Vaughn P’08: “Computer Vision” and “Robotic Localization and Mapping.” “These were great experiences that allowed me to explore topics within the field of robotics that HWS did not necessarily include in traditional courses,” he says.
He explored his interest further by participating in a National Science Foundation research experience at the University of California, San Diego. The project focused on robotics related to world exploration, and by the time it wrapped up, DeLuccia was sold on pursuing a graduate degree in the field.
“At Penn, I learned about all aspects of robotics but focused mostly on vision and learning,” he says. “Vision is something that is so natural for humans, but what happens within the brain is not exactly obvious. Then, discovering ways to translate the processes within the brain into math is an entirely different story. This translation between human perception and robotic perception is fascinating to me and has led to some of the most interesting results in robotics.”
DeLuccia’s position at SRI International focuses on vision and learning related to robotics as well as other applications. “I am responsible for making robots see the world and learn from experiences. If you think of a self-driving car, my job is to have the car locate pedestrians and vehicles and interpret what each is doing at any moment in time,” he says.
SRI International has been instrumental in advances ranging from the computer mouse to robotic surgery. The company participated in the creation of iPhone’s Siri, and has impacted the fields of solar technology, biodefense, education, banking, and more.
In his new role, DeLuccia is ready to play an important role in SRI’s future innovations, and Vaughn, who has stayed in touch with his former student, is confident that he will excel. “I expect we will be hearing some really inspiring feedback from Luke over the next months and years,” he says.