Or the Alternate Title: RoboCop Exists in Africa
In Kinshasa region of the Congo in Africa, participation in traffic was dangerous for pedestrians, bike riders and car drivers alike. To introduce more safety to the region, Industrial Engineer Thérèse Inza came up with a great idea. She combined the function of a traffic regulating officer with a traffic light and came up with an android that controls the traffic safely.
After initial test installations, the first commision was requested in June 2013. Ever since they are trying to build out the robot squad further. Thérèse Inza is the head of Women’s Technology (WoTech), the association that is building these robots now and she aspires to introduce their solution even outside of Congo.
Features of the Traffic Robot
The robot is about 2.5 m tall, that is 8.2 ft overall and that allows all traffic participants to see them properly. The artificial helpers are equipped with moving arms and a rotating chest so he can visually indicate how the traffic should flow – who needs to stop and who can go, to be exact. The robot is also programmed to speak to pedestrians letting them know when they can walk.
The robots have cameras installed where you would expect them. The cameras are placed where you would find human eyes on the face along with some auxiliary cameras for wider angles. The camera footage is monitored in a central command office and the recordings serve as evidence after there has been an accident. Like that it is relatively quickly identified who is responsible after a crash. No android should miss an antenna and just like our favorite robot from the cartoon Futurama, Bender, the antenna was placed on the robot’s head. So that is how he can transmit data to the traffic command centre.
Why Not Just Traffic Lights?
In case you are wondering why they did not just deploy standard traffic lights instead of these futuristic androids I think this might be for two reasons. One reason could be that they are very proud of the Congolese technology and want to use their own innovations, that are designed for their environment. The other reason might be merely financial. The robot traffic keeper costs about 15.000 Dollars to be manufactured and installed. Now you might think that traffic lights would be significantly cheaper than that – but actually you couldn’t be more wrong. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) states the following on their webpage:
“It costs the taxpayer $250,000 to $500,000 to purchase and install a traffic signal. Electric bills and routine maintenance amount to about $8,000 a year.”
We loved the design and think that the solution is quite functional, futuristic and has a great value for its price. The people from Kinshasa have also confirmed, they love the new assistance on controlling the traffic. What do you think about the true RoboCop for traffic in Africa? Let us know in the comments section below.
YouTube: Kinshasa traffic robot cops hope to tackle traffic along city streets
Photo credit: CCTV Africa