Early accounts of Severin Kezeu’s childhood depicted a boy who devoured any book he came across. He became interested in robotics when he was seven years old. During this time, he became more aware of issues of social justice and civil rights through the lenses of prominent activists such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela.
When he was admitted to the University of Yaoundé, he was interested in mathematics and computer science. According to Afrik Hepri, his application to the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation in Strasbourg, France, was accepted after several attempts.
Before achieving international acclaim, Kezeu was awarded the French National Prize for Invention and Innovation in 1991 for his doctoral dissertation on collision. Prior to his anti-collision system’s international adoption, standard collision avoidance systems were industry specific. There were those designed specifically for cars by auto specialists and those designed specifically for cranes by crane professionals.
Apart from being similar in approach, these inventions lacked the ability to alert in the face of risks or when there were false alarms of impending dangers. As a result, averting disasters such as trains colliding with vehicles on a railway track was nearly impossible.
To address these issues, Kezeu introduced the Navigator, a one-of-a-kind anti-collision system. According to Kumatoo, the Navigator system “collects information such as the position of the equipment, its speed, the load it carries, its ability or inability to slow down, the speed and direction of the wind, and so on” and then processes it to calculate the collision risk probability. If the likelihood is high, the computer notifies the equipment operator. If the situation is critical, the onboard computer takes control of the equipment to avoid collisions.”
According to the platform, his invention works in 3D and can detect potential collisions as well as be reconfigured from the Internet at any time. The Navigator can also be outfitted with any type of mobile equipment, such as planes, trains, cars, cranes, and security gates. Following his invention award in 1991, his company (SK-Group France) began providing services to companies such as Bouygues, Liebher, and Alstom.
Surprisingly, the French government did not believe the Cameroonian inventor created the Navigator. According to Kumatoo, authorities detained Kezeu and his wife until they determined that he was the brains behind the invention.