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Giant robots direct traffic, issue ticket

The robot is in action on Triomphal Boulevard in Kinshasa, at the intersection of Asosa, Huileries and Patrice Lumumba streets. (Junior D. Kannah/AFP/Getty Images) The robot is in action on Triomphal Boulevard in Kinshasa. (Junior D. Kannah/AFP/Getty Images)

Y0u might call it “Robocop: The Next Generation.”

On The Washington Post’s Innovation’s blog, Matt McFarland reports that two large robots are being used in place of police officers to direct traffic and pedestrians on city streets in Kinshasa, the capital of Congo. The idea could be a novel solution for countries where motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic has grown so dangerous that having actual humans in the street could be hazardous.

One might think that in a place where some drivers see traffic laws as guidelines rather than rules drivers might be tempted to ignore the giant robots. But the solar-powered robots are equipped with multiple cameras, which means they have the potential to issue tickets to those who fail to yield to their commands.

“If a driver says that it is not going to respect the robot because it’s just a machine, the robot is going to take that, and there will be a ticket for him,” Isaie Therese, the engineer behind the project, said in an interview with CCTV Africa. “We are a poor country, and our government is looking for money. And I will tell you that with the roads the government has built, it needs to recover its money.”

Could you imagine such a creature looming over commuters on K Street?



Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.



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