Fourteen year old Fajimi Anjolaoluwa Olajumoke is one of the eight students at the Federal Government Girls College Shagamu, Ogun State, who recently inspired Nigerians after building a humanoid robot. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE-KORIEOCHA, she speaks on the journey to creating the robot, the challenges encountered and her expectations for the future
It took you and your team almost one year to build the six feet and 60 gram humanoid robot. Can you take us through the journey of making the humanoid robot ? How did it start, who brought up the idea and share please the process briefly with us ?
It all began when our principal, Olodo was transferred to our school newly. She discovered we weren’t attending tech related competitions and we do not have a robotics centre. She expressed her desire that we should build a humanoid that could welcome dignataries to the school but wanted us to start by attending tech related competitions, acquire knowledge and build confidence.
She got us external trainers and mentorship both within and outside the country and the support of our ICT teachers. We started meeting up in our computer lab till our robotics centre was ready.
How do you feel being part of the eight girls who invented this first of a kind Robot in secondary school ?
I feel privileged actually to be a part of this team and I hope that the knowledge I have gained while working with my team members to build the humanoid will help me in my future career.
Read also: FG unveils Africa’s first humanoid robot
What role did team work with your colleagues help achieve this dream ?
Team work helped us get ideas from one another, treat each other equally and worked at a faster pace. If we were not working as a team, knowing that they are some non-science students amongst us; the project would have taken a longer time. Lastly it helped us to reduce stress on team members.
What were the major challenges you encountered in making this a reality?
Our major challenge was time because we are boarding students. We have to combine studies with robotics which was extracurricular for us. Another challenge was merging the hardware and software especially for face recognition.
Another is stabilizing the feet of the robot so it does not fall over when moving.
How were you able to merge the camera and software together so the robot can recognise people and respond to questions ?
For recognition; we had to make more research on looking for programming languages that could work perfectly with our software and camera. We sought advices from our mentors.
For Kiki, the robot to be able to answer, we made use of a virtual assistant powered by Google.
Can you list the things that the robot can do ?
Kiki can move forward , backward, sideways and turn around. It can move its shoulder and it’s neck. It can answer global questions when asked and can recognise people’s faces after their sufficient data has been inputted.
What was the role of your school, Federal Government Girls College, Shagamu in making this a reality ?
Ah! Won se gudu gudu meje (speaking in Yoruba) meaning they did a lot of things. The school built our robotics centre, equipped with tools and all that’s needed,they got us all our materials, instructors and mentors, fed us, gave us security and so on.
What really inspired you and your colleagues to do this and what were the major driving force behind this ?
Inspiration was Principal actually. she made us believe that anything was possible if we could believe and if you wanted it. Moreso, the platform was provided that inspired me to put in my best. And for us all, I think the fascination that we were going to build a robot was also part of our ginger.
Did you take robotic classes from school or other places before you made this invention ?
No. Our major experience was from the competitions that we participated in when the club started as it involved building smaller robots to perform some tasks as it concerns the competition.
After this, what next for you ? Do you hope to build a career around robotics ?
Yes. Actually, my hope to have a future career is robotics engineering and that’s the major reason why I wanted to be with the club for basic experience and fundamental knowledge on robots.
Did your childhood experiences or training at home in anyway influence your choice of joining the robotics team and making this invention ?
Yes. kind of. For me, it has always and will always be cartoons. As a kid, I got fascinated a lot from the cartoons that I watched e.g. science max. I saw a lot of explosions and scientific stuffs that increased my interest. Getting to school and the robotics club started, It was as if heaven shined on me. I wanted to join just to see where my fascination and my interest will lead me to and from there, I decided I want to be a robotic engineer.
Who funded this project? Was it the school or did the school join funds with your parents to make this a reality ?
The school funded the project.
What are your future aspirations after school ?
My future aspiration after secondary school is to study Robotics engineering and at the same time continue taking classes online from now, engaging with my other teammates to see how far we could actually go in the robotics world.