That was not a self driving car on the streets of Lagos

There has been a video of a supposed self driving car in Lagos. The first time I saw the video, a close look told me that the chances of that being an autonomous driving vehicle was next to zero. Why? It will be my pleasure to tell you.

The tell-tale signs of rigged self-driving cars are absent: there is usually a rack of cameras and sensors on the roof, and sometimes also on the bonnet and the boot. Because most autonomous vehicles are still in test phase, those sensors and cameras are not built in. Regular cars are modified and rigged with them. This particular “self-driving”car did not have any such rack.

This is a picture of the Lagos car:
techplus2016 Self driving car in Lagos

This is a picture of what a rigged self driving car looks like (notice the rack on the roof):
Google self-driving car

Here is another from Uber (again, see the rack on the car?):
uber self-driving volvo-xc90

That Lagos car is a 2012 Toyota Corolla. Please. For a model that old to be capable of self-driving ability, it needs to be fitted with sensors and cameras. As said before, it has none of those.

Next, who is TechPlus in the self-driving world? We know Uber, Google, Baidu, NuTonomy, and others with autonomous driving technologies. But TechPlus? Who were they? Does anyone have any info on them?

Yes; I do. TechPlus is a tech conference that has been holding in Nigeria since 2015. Do you see “#TechPlus2016”, the URL, and the MTN logo on that car? Aha! Billed as “Nigeria’s largest tech event”, the organisers of the conference clearly used this car as a publicity stunt for the event. MTN were sponsors of the conference.

An Old Stunt From 2016

Lastly, that video that everyone is flipping over is two years old. Here is the official video as published by MTN, who were official sponsors of TechPlus2016, and it was published in 2016 too:



No; that car people have been hyping was not a self-driving vehicle. At best, it was controlled remotely – you know like your child’s remote-controlled car or a drone. Even less flattering, as pointed out by Saheed Adepoju, it could be that the driver was disguised dressed up as the car seat.

Surely, if it was a real self driving car, it would have been demonstrated at the TechPlus 2016 event itself. What better way to hype the conference as the best thing to happen to Nigeria’s tech ecosystem than a real autonomous driving vehicle? But it wasn’t.

As a publicity stunt for TechPlus 2016, I am not sure how successful it was, if the buzz around the car is just catching on in 2018, two years after the conference it was used for. We also need to keep enlightening people. I kept waiting for someone – one person – to say that this does not look like a self-driving vehicle.

It looks like I have to be that person, so here goes: That was not a self driving car on the streets of Lagos. It was a nice publicity stunt that didn’t quite catch on at the time it was needed.

Also read:  In an emergency, your driverless car decides who dies 

When Will We See A Real Self driving Car In Lagos?

I have no idea, but a good guess is, whenever the companies behind the technology think that it will make business sense to spend that kind of money in Lagos and get good returns. Many cities around the world that have more advanced technology and infrastructure, in addition to greater economic prospects, have not seen autonomous vehicles yet.

Except an organisation with really big muscles is looking to pull a publicity stunt with a real autonomous car, or until one of Nigeria’s billionaires imports a Tesla, it may take a while. Calm down, everybody.

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Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

4 thoughts on “That was not a self driving car on the streets of Lagos

  • April 16, 2018 at 6:50 am
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    I said it and even told some people why it can never be a self driven car…. Thank you for this piece.

  • April 17, 2018 at 2:04 am
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    😁😁

    Mr Mo you have burst a bubble wt precise alacrity

    2years old video 😁😁😁

    The internet is somtin else

  • April 18, 2018 at 12:35 am
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    Who are those behind this stunt pulling. Let me slap them in the nose. Now it’s crystal clear, such doesn’t exist in Lagos yet. I’m 99.99% sure I wouldn’t have believed either.

  • June 20, 2018 at 8:32 pm
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    Thank you for this insightful piece Mr. Mo, we really need to keep people enlightened.

    As regards when we’ll get to see a real autonomous driving vehicle in Lagos, it’s bound to happen sooner than you think.

    No, I’m not referring to a publicity stunt with a real autonomous car by a foreign organization, or importation of a Tesla Model S. It will be made possible by a Nigerian high-tech company.

    Driverless tech is here to stay, like it or not. However, its test implementation in Africa would take some more years after its full implementation in the more advanced cities. Driverless tech promises lower traffic fatalities, congestion and emissions and Africa cannot afford to wait for our foreign problem solvers this time around being that these problems are more prevalent down here.

    Rosenics Technologies is a Robotics and AI company based in Uyo, developing driverless tech called Seldrish (Self Driving System for Humans). The company’s website is http://www.rosenics.xyz , email is business@rosenics.xyz .

    Africa is now rising to solve her most challenging and technologically demanding problems and I’m pretty excited.

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