Meet Africa’s robotics pioneer
Anyone who grew up reading Isaac Asimov, including his Robot series featuring I, Robot, will be familiar with ‘The Three Laws of Robotics’ and has likely dreamed of owning one of these autonomous mechanical marvels. But Sam Kodo, who hails from Togo, did much more than dream of owning a robot. He built his first one before the age of eight.
Just in case you haven’t read Asimov, the three laws state that robots must never hurt humans, robots must obey humans and robots must protect themselves. All these laws are superseded by the supreme rule that humans are to be protected and not harmed.
It has been over 20 years since Asimov’s death, and today robotics is a key technology for the future. Already, much of manufacturing is automated, and robots are replacing humans for menial, ‘mindless’ work and in extreme conditions. Japan is looking at ending the shortage of caregivers for the elderly with robots, while Iran is testing combat robots.
It is not surprising to learn that one of the world’s most forward-looking companies, Google, has been acquiring companies that are useful in practical, everyday robotics. Facial recognition systems, machine learning systems, natural language processing, gesture recognition technology, robotic parts (such as arms, wheels and cameras), artificial intelligence, image recognition and design – all feature in acquisitions by the company over the past few years.
Most of these companies have been assimilated into Google’s top-secret lab known as Google X, run by company founder Sergey Brin. This is the division responsible for another visionary concept: private space f light. Google is also the company behind the development of
SAM KODO, A YOUNG MAN FROM THE WEST AFRICAN NATION OF TOGO WHO’S BEEN EXPERIMENTING WITH ROBOTS SINCE HE WAS A CHILD, HAS BIG DREAMS. HE HAS ALREADY DONE MORE IN THE FIELD THAN MOST PEOPLE TWICE HIS AGE, AND WITH LIMITED RESOURCES. SHORTLISTED FOR THE ANZISHA PRIZE, KODO IS PIONEERING ROBOTICS IN AFRICA.