Traffic robots in Kinshasa

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The Traffic Robot being presented to Dr. Jill Biden and Cathy Russell by Thérèse Izay Kirongozi in Kinshasa in July 2014.

Thérèse Izay, an engineer from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, designed traffic robots that were initially placed in two locations in Kinshasa[1] towards the end of 2013.[2] By 2015 five robot traffic police were in use in Kinshasa[3] and one in Lubumbashi.[4] The use of robots as traffic lights may be unique to the Democratic Republic of Congo.[1] [note 1] Izay hopes the government will help by providing funds to produce more robots.[1]

The robots have red stop warning lights on the front and back of their torso, with green proceed lights on their arms. They rotate periodically to control traffic flow across a crossroads. They also carry TV cameras to record traffic violations. A claimed advantage of the robots is that, unlike local traffic police, they are immune to bribery.


The local population has accepted the robots enthusiastically.[1][3] An editorial writer, Sam Sturgis, while acknowledging the improvement the robots bring to traffic flow, suggested that they may divert attention from the problem of the unregulated growth of the city on the periphery.[5]


  1. ^ Anthropomorphic, non-robotic figures have often been used, notably in Germany, to indicate roadworks. Their human-like appearance is considered to encourage drivers to slow down more than a simple sign.


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