Luke Andrews, a South African Grade 12 pupil, has been recognised for developing a novel high precision navigation and tracking system.
The youngster received the prestigious Yale Science and Engineering Association Award for the Most Outstanding Exhibit in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and won first place at an international science fair held in Barcelona, Spain, in March 2022.
Luke's innovation has exciting applications for the robotics and autonomous vehicle industries. His solution is achieved by comparing sensor data and high-speed digital images of the surface over which a vehicle is moving.
The power of perseverance
Luke's journey on this latest project is testimony to the power of perseverance and self-belief. He started developing his first proof-of-concept prototype in January 2020 using data from optical computer mice.
It took more than six months of dedicated effort to build this prototype which included a graphical interface to provide real-time visual feedback. He then moved over to his second prototype which utilises two Raspberry Pi's and a modified Raspberry Pi camera allowing his new prototype to be scalable.
When he started with this next prototype, he was so excited about the fact that it was 200 times too slow to provide real-time feedback and adjustment did not slow him down at all. After a year of hard work his second prototype was able to provide accurate position and orientation tracking in real-time.
Recently, he has been working on a third prototype which uses two cameras mounted far apart on a large base with wheels to allow his innovation to be tested over various outdoor terrains.
A regular winner
Luke has come a long way from his very first Science Fair project in 2016, which involved a design for alternative closure solutions for shoes to assist the young and elderly, which he entitled "The end of laces".
Since the age of 12, he has been a regular winner in various international science fairs and robotics competitions, as he searches for innovative and different solutions to problems.
After his first science fair success, Luke turned his attention to helping children to independently improve their spelling and mathematics.
He learned to program so that he could develop what he called the Spelling and Mathematics Amazing Results Tool ("SMART"), which used gamification to motivate and improve students' spelling and mathematics. This project ultimately won Luke first place the OKSEF International Science Fair in Turkey in 2018.
Passionate about problem-solving
Luke is passionate about problem-solving, particularly where technology's application intersects with his love for mathematics and engineering. According to his teachers, he has a special ability to think laterally and challenge conventional thinking and solutions.
He has an impressive track record as a serial innovator and has received numerous national and international awards in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
In the field of Robotics, Luke's passion and flair have found the most fulfilment and recognition.
He won the Robofest World Championships Junior Innovation Award in 2017, the Junior Game Play in 2018 and the Senior Exhibition in 2020. In 2021 he received a silver award at the USA Genius Olympiad International Project Fair and then first prize at the Hong Kong Global Youth Science and Technology Bowl (GYSTB).
Luke also holds the distinction of winning the South African Youth Engineering and Science Symposium for the past two consecutive years.
Luke has big plans and dreams for the future and hopes to make a significant positive impact in the world through his innovations.
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