L-R James Danga, patron of the physics club, Augustine Kizito and Amon Nyesige, demonstrate how the robotic car operates.
L-R James Danga, patron of the physics club, Augustine Kizito and Amon Nyesige, demonstrate how the robotic car operates.

Have you ever watched a movie as interesting as it is inspiring? Well, if you have never, then you might never know how it feels for the idea you somewhat borrowed from a movie to become a success story.

Not just a simple story but one that gets engineers beaming and toasting to the growth of the country’s level of innovation.

It all started when some students watched the 2007 summer blockbuster movie Transformers by Michael Bay.

If you have not watched any of the movies in the franchise, Transformers is an American Science fiction film which combines computer animation with live-action, centering on a teenager involved in a war between the heroic autobots and the evil deceptions, two factions of alien robots who can disguise themselves by transforming into everyday machinery.

The movie itself did not only absorb the makers to subsequently make sequels. On this side of the world, it inspired a team of students from Uganda to one day have a car that could operate as the auto robots in the movie. It didn’t take long for a chance to present itself and the students put off the seemingly complex idea into reality.

Movie becomes reality
The reality is now the Smart Hi-Breed Car (SHBC), which undoubtedly has features like an automated robot in the movie. However, plans have now been drawn to develop it into something equivalent to the Kira E-V, another automobile that was developed at Makerere University last year.

The Smart Hi-Breed Car was developed by a team of seven students of St Mary’s College Kisubi, under their robotics club, which empowers them to integrate class work, real life situations and research into various innovations like this one, which is designed to solve societal problems.

“The idea of the car started out from scratch. I had seen it in the movie but how to bring this in practice seemed a pacific challenge,” narrates Amon Nyesigye, one of the brains behind the SHBC.

“Each time I reminisced on the movie, I felt like I could do it, but where to start from was quite puzzling than the whole idea itself.”

Two heads are better than one
“But then, two heads are better than one, and the seven of us had seen the movie. We constantly talked about it until the chance came to try it out,” he adds.

“When the idea was presented to our robotics club at school, we had to improvise for motors, censors, bolts, pieces of metal, which luckily we had in our school laboratory and had to devote more time and research to it”, says Augustine Kizito, another team member.Because they are study Physics at school, it kept the project going.The robotic car was named the Smart-High Breed Car.

The Smart Hi-Breed Car is a model car that uses an internal combustion engine and solar energy, and automatic switching between the two alternative power sources varying on the environment. When it reaches in the area where there is sunlight, it automates itself, using solar energy to com bust the engine without stopping.

The robotic car is also programmed to do self-parking in case the owner is in a hurry and there is ample parking space.

While in traffic jam, the car has an automatic programme that maintains a reasonable distance between the car in the front or at the back.

Once involved in an accident, the robotic car automatically, through an integrated communication to the police system, sends information on where the accident has happened and if the driver needs immediate help or not.

The SHBC project was developed in only five months with little help from the teachers and some training from the iLabs@Mak team-the organizers of the school’s innovations challenge, where it was voted the best innovation by a panel of judges from various fields of engineering.

The robotic car also uses motors, censors, solar panels, blue tooth communication among other electromagnetic and mechanical engineering systems.

Schools that participated in the school’s innovations challenge include- Mt St Mary’s College-Namagunga, Ntare School, Maryhill High School, St Joseph’s Vocational School, Dr. Obote College, Boroboro, Lango College, Lira Town College, Kings College Budo, Makerere College School and Gayaza High School, who equally were all tasked to invent a project that was relevant to the society.

“The robotic car is a perfect idea of what the competition required,” noted Dr Amos Ngabirano, director of ICT in Uganda Police and one of the judges.

“With the changing trends in society, I guarantee you that every one of us would love to see this car developed into one that we all can drive and going by indexes like quality, relevance, assembly and disassembly we want in such innovations, it is no doubt a winner”, he noted.

Similarly Cosmas Mwikirize, the organisers of the iLabsa@Mak challenges agrees that, the SHBC was a very compelling innovation. “It incorporated engineering design in the field of robotics and most surprising, students managed to build this from scratch.”

Future plans
All the seven inventors of the SHBC namely- Ivan Karugaba, Yusuf Buwanguzi, Brian Mukeswe, Andrew Bakashaba, Daniel Busingye, Augustine Kizito and Amon Nyesigye, have one dream in common-studying engineering at university in order to continue with their research in robotic cars.

One thing guaranteed to them is that Makerere University iLabs and College of Engineering, Technology and Design (CEDAT) have unveiled plans to develop a prototype of the SHBC in a time frame of five years to come, on which their efforts are greatly required. The winners got full tuition fees for a term, unlimited internship at Cedat, and an e-lab for the school, among others.

 Source:  Daily monitor