The Democratic Republic of Congo has replaced some of its traffic police with aluminium robots that look as though they could've come from a low-budget sci-fi film. The solar-powered machines tower over the roads, waving their arms, and hand out tickets for violations if need be.
According to The Guardian, two robots have been stationed in the capital since 2013. They can withstand the region's hot climate and are quipped with green and red lights in order to regulate the flow of traffic. The Robocops also boast rotating chests and surveillance cameras, the combination of which allows them to spin around, then record the flow of traffic, and send real-time images back to the police station.
In several interviews posted to YouTube, such as the one below, Therese Izay, president of Women’s Technology, the group behind the robots, claimed the robots can help the government dole out tickets and thus recoup some of the money its spent on roads. She also said the robots were made to be humanoids so that they'd look like policeman. The robots even don sunglasses, because police often wear sunglasses.
On Tuesday, three new robots developed by a Congolese association of women engineers were dispatched in the city. They each cost $27,500 to make, whereas the original ones cost around $15,000 to make each. Izay told The Guardian that the new robots "react much more quickly" than the old ones and should make it more difficult for motorists in the city of Kinshasa to get away with traffic violations.
“The electronic components work much better now than the ones from the first generation,” she said, adding that she is trying to get authorities to purchase 30 more robots to patrol the country’s highways. "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."
Izay is looking beyond the Congo, too. In one interview, she mentioned that the traffic robots should not only expand in Africa but also to the US, Europe, and Asia. Let's just hope that the robots continue to get updates - including in the design department so that they look a little less old-school and frightening - should they ever see a global rollout.