Thomas designed robot to take wheelie bins to and from the kerb for the elderly and people with disabilities. He has won the $50,000 Prime Minister’s Future Scientist Prize for 2019.
“My elderly neighbour was told by doctors that she shouldn’t be taking her bins out to the kerbside because it was too dangerous and she was likely to fall.
“My grandparents also have a really long driveway and they don’t use their wheelie bin because of the inconvenience of taking it out.”
A keen scientist, Thomas says he was looking for a project where he could help his community when the idea popped up. “It was like, shoot, there’s a need here and there’s something I could do that could actually be really beneficial.”
The result is a robot that raises the front of a wheelie bin off the ground, wheels it to the kerb for emptying, and later returns to bring the bin back to its storage spot.
The design and build has taken Thomas over two years and involved substantial physics, technology and design. He’s also consulted with potential users, Age Concern and waste collection company Waste Management, and admits to taking over a living room and the garage at his parents’ house.