Luca Gherardi: Head of Software Engineering

Luca Gherardi: Head of Software Engineering

Luca Gherardi became employee #1 after joining Verity in 2014 as a software engineer. Originally from Italy, Luca moved to Switzerland in 2013 to do his post-doctoral research at ETH after meeting Raffaello D’Andrea. At ETH, he worked in the Flying Machine Arena under D’Andrea, who then asked Luca to join Verity shortly after it was founded.

As the head of software engineering, Luca is involved in all aspects of software design and development. His work centers more specifically on the software behind Verity’s proprietary localization system, which is what enables our drones to fly autonomously indoors.

What excites him about his role at Verity is the diversity and complexity of the challenges he is faced with. The responsibilities in the software team range from the embedded design of drivers for sensors and micro-controller peripherals, to the development of the web interfaces for the client-facing software.

“We work on problems that haven’t been addressed before. Most of the time, you can’t just research something and use existing solutions. For us, it’s more about designing new algorithms or taking inspiration from best practice techniques from other domains and tailoring them to solve our unique challenges.”

The elimination of a single point of failure is a key requirement for any engineering done at Verity. With system consisting of hundreds of different components that cooperate to achieve a common goal, the engineering team works to ensure each component is important but not critical.  These are challenging problems that require innovation solutions, which make our systems very robust and reliable.

“Designing a system like this requires consideration of all the possible problems, safety and security concerns from the beginning. It takes a lot of effort, but it’s a big reward when you see that our system could operate on Broadway for a year for 400 shows without any problems or autonomously scan a full warehouse during a weekend.”

Working on industrial drones brought a whole new set of challenges. The drones need to be smarter in planning and executing their paths and possibly coexist with human and other machines. In addition, the software is more distributed, running both on the drones and in the cloud. This requires our software engineers to work with cutting edge technologies and think about new ways of designing our systems.

Luca was also involved in the production of SPARKED, a video collaboration between Cirque du Soleil, ETH Zurich and Verity Studios.

 

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