SMART Africa recipient spotlight: Derrick Odonkor

Hannah Diorio-Toth

Mar 30, 2021

Derrick Odonor

Source: CMU-Africa

Derrick Odonkor spent his time at CMU-Africa pursuing his passion for robotic manipulation, navigation, and cognition architectures. Through his internship at the Institute of AI at the University of Bremen in Germany, he was able to both perform research in the field and develop course material for an introductory class on cognitive robotics. Part of the Creation of Educational Material in Robotics Automation (CEMRA) program, the course was designed to be delivered to the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society.

Working on research with David Vernon, a visiting instructor at CMU-Africa, he developed a cognitive robot shopping assistant, designed to help customers find products in a store. Using a virtual Pepper humanoid robot and cognitive robot abstract machine (CRAM) cognitive architecture, his robot was able to navigate challenges like failure and vaguely-stated tasks in a simulated environment.

“The program was tested in six different scenarios, and for each scene we executed the plans ten times, out of which our application was successful approximately 93 percent of the time. The results of the simulated experiment confirm the robustness and feasibility of our cognitive robot shopping assistant system,” says Derrick.

Odonkor is currently working as a data and decisions facilitator at the Africa Leadership University where he introduces students to basic data analysis and linear programming.  He has plans to pursue a Ph.D. in robotics and work at a robotics research-oriented company.  

CMU-Africa has prepared me in the areas of diligence, hard work, and owning my craft.

Derrick Odonkor, Alum, CMU-Africa
“CMU-Africa has prepared me in the areas of diligence, hard work, and owning my craft. CMU-Africa helped me realize my potential to overcome challenges that may discourage me from attaining my goals. I am ready to make a huge difference on the African continent and the world through these trainings.”