From the Series
In the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, robot traffic officers are commonplace. In the capital, where the roads are jam-packed, pedestrians are in danger and drivers defy the rules of the road. Authorities felt that they needed an innovative intervention to tackle this problem because traffic officers were falling short.
So they enlisted the skills of industrial engineer Thérèse Izay Kirongozi to develop humanoid robots that would regulate traffic in the country’s capital. The first generation robot, installed in 2013, was deployed to protect pedestrians crossing one of the main roads in Kinshasa – Boulevard Lumumba. This first robot, which towers over pedestrians at two-and-a-half meters tall can raise one robotic arm and bend the other, regulating traffic on one end and allowing passengers to cross on the other.
The first robot was also programmed to give pedestrians spoken commands, telling them to wait or cross the road.
Later that same year, authorities commissioned Kirongozi to build another robotic officer. This officer, powered by solar energy, is stationed in front of the Congolese parliament and raises his arms like his human counterpart would to stop traffic and allow cars to go.
Congolese officials have since commissioned and installed additional robots called Tamuke, Mwaluke and Kisanga.
Tamuke, Mwaluke and Kisanga all have rotating chests and video cameras built into their eyes to send footage back to a central office.
Congolese officials opted for the robotic model because residents have reported that they mistrust human traffic officers. Since the robotic models have been deployed, officials have reported fewer incidents on the road and Kinshasans have reported that the traffic surrounding the robotic officers has been eased.
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