If you happen to visit Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, go to the intersection of Boulevard Triomphal and Huileries Avenue and you’ll see a giant silver robot directing traffic. Oh, and don’t run a red light because he’ll catch you in the act no matter how fast you are.
The traffic in Kinshasa is chaotic and the poor country of Congo is at a loss for words and funds when it comes to financing a solution when the budget is already stretched thin.
Enter Isaie Therese, an engineer from the Kinshasa Higher Institute of Applied Technique. She created a huge metal traffic warden to solve the traffic problem.
The robot is equipped with CCTV “camera eyes” that transmit live video streams to a center for analysis and arms fitted with lights to direct traffic. It is solar powered and can run day and night without constant maintenance.
Though the undertaking was mainly to recover costs for newly built roads in the capital (by charging citizens for traffic violations) and to cut down the costs of paying human traffic wardens, it has attracted widespread attention in the form of praise and scorn. Some citizens remark that it is more likely that people will respect the robot more than the human traffic police and some say that it has limitations compared to human beings; though the former maybe due to the fascination with the concept of a robot telling you what to do.
Two of these robots have been installed in Kinshasa and if successful, they will be joined by more of their mechanical brethren.