Giant robots have taken over Democratic Republic of Congo. Well, the traffic at least.
The robots are being used on the streets of the capital, Kinshasa, in order to control traffic and reduce dangerous driving.
Costing €21,000 each to make, the solar-powered machines are designed to reduce road accidents and to monitor driving habits on the jammed streets.
The robots have rotating chests and surveillance cameras that record the flow of traffic and send real-time images to the police station.
Kinshasa drivers are notorious for breaking the rules of the road as motorists in cars and bikes jostle for space on the streets.
The robots are equipped with red and green lights, as well as multiple cameras, to catch offending drivers.
They “look more like giant toys than real policemen”, according to reporters.
The robots were developed by Women’s Technology, a Congolese association of all-female engineers. The group’s president, Therese Izay, says that the giant machines will stop dangerous drivers from thinking that they can escape justice.
“In our city, someone can commit an offence and run away, and say that no one saw him,” said Izay. “But now, day or night, we’ll be able to see him in real time and he will pay his fine like in all the serious countries of the world.”
Drivers seem to agree. “There are certain drivers who don’t respect the traffic police,” said taxi driver Poro Zidane. “But with the robot it will be different. We should respect the robot.”
“As a motorcyclist I’m very happy with the robot’s work,” said Demouto Mutombo. “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.”
The machines were first introduced in 2013, with three new robots added to the capital this week and five more sent to the Katanga province in the south-east.
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