A giant robot brings traffic order to an African capital.
What’s big, metallic, and changing the way people think about their driving habits? It isn’t just your every day traffic light. In Kinshasa, the capital city of Congo, a new sheriff is in town: a robot that functions like a human traffic cop, creating a surprisingly effective way of doing a traffic cop’s dangerous work in a country that’s strapped for cash. Aside from displaying ‘stop’ and ‘go’ signals, the robot also is equipped with two cameras that can capture traffic violations and efficiently issue tickets, as well as passively monitor traffic flow. “We are a poor country and our government is looking for money. And I will tell you that with the roads the government has built, it needs to recover its money,” said its inventor, a woman named Isaie Therese who works with her team and prototypes the machines by hand out of the Kinshasa Higher Institute of Applied Techniques.
Not only that, but the anthropomorphic robot, which reportedly stands over eight feet tall, seems to work better than its human counterparts for ensuring driver compliance. Commuter Demouto Mutombo told CCTV Africa through an interpreter: “As a motorcyclist I’m very happy with the robot’s work. Because when the traffic police control the cars here there’s still a lot of traffic. But since the robot arrived, we see truly that the commuters are respectful.” Other people interviewed were more skeptical, saying that it simply can’t follow up on accidents or aggressive driving as quickly as a human cop.
Therese, however, seems to delight in the robot’s subtle, even passive-aggressive, approach: “If a driver says that he is not going to respect the robot because it is just a machine, the robot is going to take that and there will be a ticket for him,” she said on CCTV Africa. See a video of the robot in motion below: