By Abbas Badmus
Revolutionary paradigm shifts owing to the robotics developments in Nigeria is continuously making new standpoints every now and then. With the help of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, the field of technology is producing groundbreaking results every second.
Robotics involves the design, construction, operation, and use of robots to perform tasks done traditionally by human beings. It is the field of technology that develops physical robots or machines as substitute for humans and replicate human actions.
Robots are commonly used in the automobile, construction, and manufacturing industries to perform simple repetitive tasks. They are programmable machines that usually carry out a series of actions autonomously or semi-autonomously.
However, robots have expanded beyond their original uses of handling monotonous task to perform tasks like fighting fires, cleaning homes, hospitality support and assisting with complex medical surgeries.
As technologies progress, robots will become smarter, more flexible and more energy efficient thereby playing a focal role in various industries outside the manufacturing sector such as emergency search-and-rescue missions, landmine detectors, law enforcement and security, among many others.
Recently, three students of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba (AAUA) in Ondo State invented a robotic dog to help tackle the escalating insecurity problem across Nigeria’s States and the FCT. Aiyegbeni John Oshoke, Loiki Charles Olalekan, and Adeyi Stephen Olabisi are of the Department of Physics and Electronics.
Their invention exemplifies the application of robotics in the area of personal security, especially, considering the increasing threats to peace and safety of people as a result of the insurgency, banditry, kidnappings, ceaseless killing of people within the rural and urban areas of the country.
The inventors, while speaking to TechDigest, say the robotic dog has a combination of motion and sound sensors that enables it to bark in the same manner a real dogs do when they notice a strange movement or hear a sharp sound within their immediate environment.
When the robotic dog senses a movement or sharp sound, it starts barking to alert the owner that something is happening around his/her location. At such times, all the owner has to do is to connect his/her device to the robotic dog.
Owners only need to connect their device to the robotic dog and will be able to see everything happening with the vicinity without putting themselves at risk. The owner can also record and take pictures of whatever is happening at that moment for evidence.
This means the owner simply connects his/her device to the robotic dog, to see everything happening around the robotic dog and then proceed to capture and record everything happening as proof.
One unique feature of the robotic dog, that sets it apart from a real dog, is that it can interact with the owner and save him/her from suffering any threat to personal safety.
The team said: “The major reason for this robotic dog is to tackle security issues in the country, unlike a real dog that cannot interact with the owner, this robotic dog can interact with the owner and save the owner from putting himself/herself in danger.”
The inventors further explained that with the help of their innovation, the owner does not need to go outside to see why his/her dog is barking, thereby keeping his/her life in any risk.
Despite the innovative effort of this team of inventors, they have several obstacles militating against the successful development and commercialisation of their revolutionary invention.
The major challenges facing the tech ecosystem in Nigeria include from the unfriendly environment, lack of access to funding and investors, poor internet services quality and power supply.
These young inventors are calling on public institutions, organisations, and individuals to invest in this innovation which they believe can help tackle insecurity because they are confident that the robotic dog is “a very good and big innovation” which they expect the government and some big firms to invest in.
As such, the robotic dog inventors solicited the support of the federal government through relevant agencies like National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and private enterprises to invest in the initiative to reduce, if not eliminate, the worrisome level insecurity in the country.
The team called on the federal government to take advantage of this ground-breaking project to invest in the innovative talents of the youth to come up with practical solutions to the current problems facing Nigeria in different sectors.
However, the challenges faced by tech ecosystem in the country all lie within the environment, and so, their possible solutions can be sourced from the same environment.
The government needs to be consistent with regulatory policies that would encourage robotics tech startups for a change, and not constitute a killjoy working hard to frustrate the talents that should sprout from the country’s tech ecosystem.
Evidently, the government has a role to play in improving internet quality and electricity supply so that robotic and artificial intelligence companies could save cost and achieve growth for their businesses.
A major solution to the problem of paucity of funds would be the creation of more fintech companies that would financially include all robotics tech firms in the country.
As a matter of national priority, the government needs to starts investing in the youths, so that they can come up with ideas that would take our nation to a higher level of sustainable development comparable to other developing and advanced economies.
In conclusion, I call on federal government and relevant agencies like NITDA and NOTAP to create a viable programmes to provide a collaborative ecosystem for potential tech investors and tech startups to drive the nation’s digital economy because this innovation needs to be encouraged, as we embrace the digital transformation.
Badmus writes from FHA Lugbe, Abuja.