Africa Defense Forum
ADF is a professional military magazine published quarterly by U.S. Africa Command to provide an international forum for African security professionals. ADF covers topics such as counter terrorism strategies, security and defense operations, transnational crime, and all other issues affecting peace, stability, and good governance on the African continent.

Robots Direct Traffic in DRC’s Capital


Can robots ease traffic chaos in the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo? A small cooperative, which developed the solution and is testing two robots, thinks so. And it wants to promote the concept across the country, Africa and the world.

Kinshasa, a city of 10 million people, has a reputation for chaotic driving and huge traffic jams. Tricolor traffic lights are rare, many cars are old and battered, and not all drivers are mindful of road rules. “When the robot stops the traffic, you can see that everybody stops and the pedestrians can cross without a problem,” said taxi bus driver Franck Mavuzi.

The first model, which is 2.5 meters tall, was deployed in June 2013 at Lumumba Boulevard in the central Limete district. “Drivers, you should make way for pedestrians,” it booms, raising one arm and lowering another while flashing red and green lights to signal cars.

The first was designed to help keep pedestrians safe, said Therese Ir Izay Kirongozi, who founded Women’s Technology to provide employment for Congolese women with engineering degrees. Her seven-member team, which includes four men, develops the robots.

In October 2013, a more sophisticated model designed to control traffic flow was deployed in front of Parliament. It swivels its torso as a green light on its breastplate turns red while it raises an arm, mimicking a traffic police officer.

The robots have an electronic detection system that determines when pedestrians are waiting to cross a street. Cameras in the robots’ eyes and shoulders provide video footage of traffic flow. Those images are transmitted and stored for possible use in prosecuting scofflaws.

The aluminum robots are designed to resist harsh equatorial climates, and each one costs about $15,000 to build, Kirongozi said.

You might also like

Comments are closed.