Nairobi News


Sophia the robot wows audience in Rwanda with her Swahili speech

The first social humanoid robot Sophia is the highlight of the ongoing 2019 Transform Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda which President Uhuru Kenyatta is attending.

During a Q and A session at the auditorium, Sophia who in October 2017 became the first robot to receive citizenship of any country in the world, joked and interacted with members of the audience.

While donning Rwanda’s traditional attire, Umushanana, the female robot said she was in the great city of Kigali, Rwanda which is in East Africa, when asked if she was aware of her location at the time.

When the moderator interrogated her further on how she got to Rwanda, she had a sneaky answer that wowed the audience:

“I flew here inside a suitcase. But I have to talk to my team about getting a window seat next time.”

Asked how many languages she spoke, she responded that she was fluent in English and speaks some Mandarin too.

The machine got to showcase her knowledge of other languages, including Swahili, which is not only spoken in the region but also popular across the African continent.

She issued greetings in different languages, including in Swahili, Arabic, French and Kinyarwanda.

Sophia was developed by Hong Kong-based Company Hanson Robotics and was activated on February 14, 2016, and made its first public appearance at South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in mid-March 2016 in Austin, Texas, United States.

She has been covered by the media around the globe and has participated in many high-profile interviews and she is able to display more than 50 facial expressions.