KENYA. Nakuru. David Lawrence is not your average teenage boy. At only 17 years old, the young man has created five robotic dog prototypes and is aiming to fabricate more.
Inspiration during times of war
Lawrence said it all started five years ago. Kenya was at war with insurgents in Somalia, with whom they share a border. This led to the deployment of the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) to protect their people and eliminate the threat. It was at this moment young Lawrence thought of a better way the country could have handled the mission. He realized sending the army would result in an unfortunate loss of life. “I felt awful that our soldiers would have to die from the constant attacks of the terrorists,’’ he explained in an interview with Transcontinental Times. “I always knew dogs were man`s best friend and that gave me the idea to create a robot dog that would also fight our battles.’’
The reimagining of man´s best friend
The next couple of months consisted of research on the topic of robotics. Lawrence also researched human behavior and the human brain itself. Next, he thought of a way to incorporate the desired behavior and intelligence into the robot he designed. It was to take the form of a dog, with the intelligence of a human, in a dynamic blend of artificial intelligence technology. Once this step was complete, he went on to create his first prototype. Since then, Lawrence has created four more prototypes. Beyond military applications, robotic dogs also lead the blind in their daily activities. When the country achieves its own space program, he hopes the government will use his robotic dogs in their explorations.
Looking to the future
Without a doubt, robots are the direction the world is heading. “Technology is here to stay so we ought to adapt to it,’’ Lawrence concluded. However, the young Kenyan has confessed to dealing with a number of setbacks. Lack of financial support, exposure, and even time limitations being the main ones. Lawrence said he had to sell two of his bicycles to get the materials for his latest project. “Next year, once I finish high school, I want to seek scholarship to be able to do all this at a much-refined place,’’ he explained. The ambitious young man wants to be a robotic engineer in the future.