Robotics is not such a popular field and trading zone in Zimbabwe due to the great technology gulf between our economically strained country and the rest of the leading first world countries. Surprisingly, the game has been redefined by Tapiwanashe Matangira, a Computer Science alumni at the Harare Institute of Technology in his latest tech-startup project titled D-Rover.
By Cisco Eng. Shingie Lev Muringi
Rewinding a few months back, Tapiwanshe is the architecture and one of the brains behind the development of a mobile publishing system and the Graphical Code Explorer which allows programmers to code new systems in Shona. To the amusement of the thousands which managed to turn out for the HIT Technovation Day 2016, Tapiwanashe and his counterparts displayed very breathtaking projects which all promised to be top hit solutions in the near future if financed well.
Tapiwanashe’s latest invention is a mobile application powered robotic toy which uses a 5Watt powered engine. The D-Rover resembles one of those military vehicles publicized in movies and was built from scratch using non-costly refuse material such cardboard boxes and planks.
This time the young technocrat from HIT has decided to venture into the unchartered zones of robotics where he has successfully managed to craft a well programmed robotic powered toy named the D-Rover. In Zimbabwe, only such entertainment pieces are imported from either China, South Korea or the US since its a very complicated field which needs fierce programming skills.
In his D-Rover project, Tapiwa said his latest invention is an ioio-otg powered rover. Rather than resorting to the legacy technology of using remote hardware for control purposes, the D-Rover is controlled via an Android mobile application which he developed.
In the Android application, the user has an interface which contains buttons for Forward, Reverse, Left and Right controls at the tip of your fingers.
The put was developed in joystick mode control, where tilting your phone to mimic motions will give you total control of the steering wheel.
The mobile application in interlinked to the D-Rover via Bluetooth where the engine board requires a minimum of 5Watts. Tapiwanashe used a Nokia battery which equals that power limit to startup the engine.
The most catching aspect of the D-Rover is that it can stream videos over Wi-Fi, an area which Tapiwa said he will continue to develop as he looks to upbring the project to a much bigger level. Remember, this is a very complicated system which has only been put into practical operation by the War Powerhouses such as USA, South Korea, Russia and China in their military vehicles.
Tapiwanashe said the idea of making the D-Rover was inspired by the desire to help the local people appreciate the spectrum of Computer Science which spans across various fields of Software and Hardware engineering. In the project, the Mobile App used for controls resembles the software bit while the Rover covers the hardware bit.
He further paid tribute to his mentor, Mr Innocent Mapanga whom he said was the encouraging force behind the technical setup of the project. Mr Mapanga is the Chairman of the Computer Science Department at HIT and has been working tirelessly with his HIT counterparts from various learning departments to nature the raw talent at the Institute.
Tapiwa added that Mr Mapanga even went on to encourage him to share his skills with the rest of the Zimbabwean technological fraternity where he created his own Facebook Page named Kodhi-dzaTapsey where he freely walks everyone through on how to make a Rover from scratch until completion.
He further added that the technology used in the D-Rover project is not just limited to toy robotics only but can applied to other automation processes such as Home Automation, Farm Automation, Assistive Driving Automation and many other industrial automation processes.
Tapiwa paid tribute to the Harare Institute of Technology which fosters such technoprenuership minds and give them an opportunity to flourish under close supervision from a group of well equipped lecturers who posses a diverse array of skills.
He passionately added that once you are a HIT student, you will not be the same person as yesterday but a new HITIAN and nothing else will flow in your veins except Technovation!!
Long live the Harare Institute of Technology and may the D-Rover project see better days……………………………
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