By CHINYERE NWACHUKWU
LAGOS- The University of Lagos says plans are on to collaborate with NORD Motors, an indigenous automobile outfit, for the manufacture of drones on its campus in Akoka.
Recall that the university had on July 14, signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the automobile company for the assembling of a vehicle plant and construction of a state-of-the-art showroom on its campus.
The partnership is to further drive research among staff and students, especially those in Engineering, with first hand knowledge in the manufacturing of vehicles.
Speaking on the new development, Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Development Services) of the institution, said it was another positive step in the right direction by the university.
She told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview on Wednesday in Lagos.
Atsenuwa said that the evolving trends in teaching, learning and research in the university, remained a key area of focus of the current management, led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.
“Everything that will provide opportunity for our researchers, students to have practical learning engagement, always brings complete fulfillment to us, because it will be seen that we are actually delivering on our mandate.
“As we have continued to interact with NORD Motors, we came to the understanding and knowledge that it is also involved in the manufacture of drones.
“Already, it is doing that within the country and we were able to get its commitment that it could also manufacture it here on our campus, and of course, make our students major actors on this.
“Don’t forget that we will also look at the entrepreneurship aspect, as it is also meant to generate income from this partnership,” the professor of Public Law stated.
She noted that the development would see the manufacturing of drones, not just for the university’s security needs, but the public at large.
Atsenuwa said it would also generate IGR, as well as create a platform for students to use the entire process as study tools.
She also gave an update on the establishment of the assembly plant for vehicles by NORD Motors.
Atsenuwa said that work had already commenced on site, in the institution.
“We have just gone around to see what was going on at the site here on our premises and we have seen the construction of the building that will house the showroom.
“We have been told the adaptations that will be made to the mechanical workshop that was there before to make it an effective assembly plant.
“So, work has actually started and we are expecting that by the end of September, we will be able to commission this automobile hub, and it is exciting,” she said.
Mr Oluwatobi Ajayi, Chief Executive Officer/Chairman of NORD Motors, said the company was set to partner the university in the manufacturing of drones to further improve security in and around the country.
“Right now, we are also going to partner this university in the manufacture of drones.
“We have the technology to make unmanned area vehicles which we popularly know as drones,” he said.
Ajayi said that the company was currently working in partnership with an outfit in that respect to make drones for policing, surveillance, as well as in the area of research and development.
“We already had some meetings with them and our own, we have done a lot of research.
“It is something I have always conceived to be done alongside here in NORD plant on campus.
“We are doing same already in Epe and this is considering the fact that Epe is on the outskirts, while UNILAG is in the heart of the city.
“But I think there is a lot more than just this, as the University of Lagos has been one great place for teaching, learning and research and which has been collaborating with the industry and private sectors.
“They spoke to us on this and we agreed, as it is something we have been doing for a while now,” Ajayi stated.
According to him, NORD will be carrying out a lot of research and development on drones in the university and hopefully make some there.
He said for it to be quickly realised, a lot of things needed to fall in place.
“For example, we need adequate space, out know drones are like vehicles, though a lot bigger, and so need a bigger space for testing.
“But, of course, looking around, I can see space that we can use for that, but other things have to fall in place.
“Of course, it is something we are currently working on, something I will happily work with UNILAG to achieve.
“It is something we are already doing and we can do a lot better and easier and more profitable with UNILAG, and I think with this collaboration, we will be able to solve some of our existing challenges,” Ajayi said.
He said that the type of drones NORD wanted to make were not just the regular ones.
“We will be making those that could be deployed for surveillance, fire fighting (sky scrappers), policing and border check, especially in the face of the issue of porous borders around the country.
“The drone will be about two metres high with a wing span of about three metres.
“Most of the drones that we are planning to manufacture are not just for surveillance purpose.
“They are such that could be used by the military, Customs and Immigration.
“They are bigger, not commonly found around,” he said.
The chairman said that the drones would ensure that human lives were not put at risk.
He said that getting it manufactured in the university would also generate interest among the students just like the assembling of the NORD vehicles.
Ajayi said that drones anywhere in the world were to an average person, still a new technology.
He noted that it would improve critical thinking as well as generate interest among the students.
Ajayi said work was in good progress.
at the company’s site for the assembling of vehicles on campus, two weeks after signing an MoA with the university.
According to him, there is huge progress of work on-going for the construction of the showroom, as well as equipping the assembly plant.
He said that this was to enable the whole process of assembling, showcasing, selling and providing services of the products.
“The engineers are already working on the showroom and we are working very hard to ensure that in six weeks time, we are through with the showroom, as well as the equipping of the assembly plant.
“I am optimistic that by the time we commission this place, we will be assembling a minimum of five vehicles a day,” he told NAN.(NAN)