Two young Zambians, Obrey Muchena and Edward Phiri, founders of E.O Robotics Zambia, have developed a social companion humanoid robot that can interacts with humans. The two young men age 19 and 20 respectively are high school graduates from Zambia. Born in Zambia, Obrey and Edward named their robot ‘Rehtse.’ Robot Rehtse was named after their mothers who have the same name Esther; so they decided to name their robot after them to show appreciation for the support they give them. “We spelled the name “Esther” backward which makes Rehste,” said Obrey and Edward.
The two young Zambians told The African Dream what inspired them to develop the robot:
“What inspired us to build this robot are the challenges that we see in our country Zambia. Zambia is not being focused much on technology especially in Artificial Intelligence and robotics. Most Zambians think Artificial Intelligence and Robotics is only in Japan, China, and other big Countries forgetting that even us as Zambians we can do it because technology knows no country”.
The robot can interact back to back with humans, make movements and blink LEDs. Their prototype Rehste robot has the following functions:
– Education (it can teach Math, English)
– Keep companion and help people with loneliness and self-isolation in senior citizens through back to back speech interaction
– It can also detect or measure body temperature from a distance (meter) and display it on its LCD screen - if the temperature is too high or low it will give out a high buzzing sound.
– Helping those with disabilities
– Working as a service robot.
In 2019, Obrey Muchena and Edward Phiri won the Gold medal for their social companion humanoid robot at the Africa Science and Innovation Week which took place in Morocco. The event was organized by OFEED. In 2020 they won the 2020 Humanitarian Activist Award from the IdealMe Enrichment Foundation in Canada.
Obrey Munchena and Edward Phiri told The African Dream in an interview that they have taught robotics and coding to over 600 students in Zambia since they found their robotics company.
They also made another robot named ‘Obward’ named after their names Obrey and Edward. The Obward robot has some amazing features and functions like:
- Robot Obward is used for home automation: If you connect it to your house It can control some of the electrical appliances such as TV, light bulb, roof fan, and other small appliances.
- Using your voice, you can just connect your smartphone to Obward by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and if you want to turn on your light bulb or TV you can say just say “Obward turn on the TV” and definitely, the robot will turn it on.
This would help people with disabled hands and legs, we are still looking to add other security functions we still working on it still in the prototype stages
The two told us in an interview:
“We all know that as days are moving forward the perspective of this world will keep on changing meaning if the young generation won’t adopt the new technologies they might be affected in the future because about 75% of the job opportunities in the future will require STEM skills and so we formed E.O Robotics Zambia which an organization that advocates Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) to young minds, the mission of this Platform is to bridge the gap between idealizing and creating by providing young people with a hands-on learning experience through robotics we believe Robotics can offer students many possibilities to develop 21st-century skills and to strengthen their numerous abilities for their future, in whatever future they decide for themselves. In a way, robotics can offer them a new way of thinking that will be useful regardless of the career path they will choose, we are happy to have taught robotics and coding to over 600 students in Zambia from the time we formed our organization.”OBREY AND EDWARD
The lack of enough equipment, hardware, and enough laptops has been part of the challenges they have been facing because they have no sponsors.
“We are looking forward to building EO Robotics into a big Tech company which will be building software, mobile apps, websites and robots that will help to solve some of the challenging problems affecting our country and the world at large and provide tech education to our people,” they told The African Dream in an interview.
For people who would like to contact them or find out more about their innovation, you can find them on Facebook by just searching for their Facebook page E O Robotics Zambia or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org