What do you think of when you think of the Democratic Republic of the Congo? European colonization and the horrors that it brought? Seemingly endless civil war? The deadly Inga Rapids? All correct but chances are a robotic traffic cop is not one of them but deployed in the streets of the capital city of Kinshasa is a robotic traffic cop.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo?

Kinshasa is one of the largest cities in the world with a population of nearly 12 million people. It was originally founded by explorer Henry Morton Stanley in 1881 as a trading post and named Leopoldville in honor of King Leopold of Belgium who claimed the territory. It was the first navigable port on the mighty Congo River above Livingstone Falls and the deadly Inga Rapids so the city grew quickly. Since achieving independence from Belgium in 1960 the country has been embroiled in a series of seemingly-never ending conflicts.

Despite the a nation being one of the poorest on the globe traffic is a major issue in the city. With nearly 12 million residents that should be no surprise. Traffic lights are few and nearly non-existent and in most cases an actual policeman controls traffic if any sort of control actually exists. That was until 2013 when two traffic robots were installed.

Incorruptible in a nation known for corruption

The solar powered robots essentially function as traffic lights. They have red and green lights that rotate to signal drivers when to go and when to stop. They also have cameras to help record any violations with the footage being sent immediately to a central computer. In a nation that is rife with corruption these robots cannot be bribed and the city’s traffic police are notoriously corrupt. Upon installation the public was enthusiastically receptive to the robots as they seem to be bringing some order to the chaos that are the streets of Kinshasa.Three more robots were added in 2015 as well as another in the nation’s second largest city Lubumbashi. These are the only traffic robots in the world with human form.

Tech could be ready to explode in Africa

These robots are the brainchild of Thérèse Izay and are made in the Congo. She designed these not only to help with traffic in her native state but also to promote women in the technology fields in Africa. Her goal is to see her robots installed not only throughout the Congo but also Africa as well.

Could these one day dot the streets of the largest cities of Africa like Lagos, Cape Town, Cairo, Tripoli, Nairobi, Johannesburg or Luanda? If they are successful could they one day make their way into New York, London, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro or Moscow? Who knows, but Africa could be the next big place for the tech field and it could be a woman like Izay that leads the way!

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