Traffic cops in Kinshasa? No, they now have solar-powered robocops!
In Kinshasa, the teeming capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where drivers often flout traffic rules, five chunky, arm-waving robots equipped with cameras, lights and solar panels have been set up to watch over the roads.
According to South China Morning Post, the solar-powered aluminium robots are huge, towering over the jammed streets, as cars and motorcycles jostle for road room, their horns blasting.
Each hand on the odd-looking machines – built to withstand the year-round tropical climate – is fitted with green and red lights that regulate the flow of traffic in the sprawling city of nine million.
The robots are also equipped with rotating chests and surveillance cameras that send real-time images to the police station.
Although the humanoids look more like giant toys than real policemen, motorists have given them a thumbs-up.
“There are certain drivers who don’t respect the traffic police. But with the robot it will be different. We should respect the robot,” taxi driver Poro Zidane said.
“We’re very happy about it,” he said, his taxi packed with passengers as drivers around him honked their horns in a desperate bid to cut through the traffic jam.
Of the five robots set up across the capital, two have been regulating traffic since 2013.
On Tuesday, three new and improved robots developed by a Congolese association of women engineers were set up.
The newcomers even have names: Tamuke, Mwaluke and Kisanga. Each cost US$27,500.
Therese Izay, president of Women’s Technology, the group behind the robots, believes the invention will help make it far more difficult for motorists to get away with traffic violations.
“In our city, someone can commit an offence and run away, and say that no one saw him. 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,” she said.
But Kinshasa governor Andre Kimbuta said that while the machines could regulate traffic, they were no match for real human policemen who could chase motorists who jump red lights and raise civic awareness.
“We should congratulate our Congolese engineers, but policemen also need to do their job,” the civic leader said.
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