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Robo... traffic cop?

A traffic robot cop on Triomphal boulevard of Kinshasa at the crossing of Asosa, Huileries and Patrice Lubumba streets

Imagine pulling up to an intersection and seeing a giant, solar-powered, traffic-directing robot wearing 80's sunglasses. You might expect Marty McFly to speed by on a hoverboard, or the Iron Giant to take off into the sky as he blissfully declares himself, "Suuuperman."

If you're a resident of Kinshasa, the sprawling capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, these huge, man-like traffic signals might be part of your daily commute. So far, two of these robots have been installed, and in spite of their imposing apperance, the residents enjoy having them around. According to BBC reporter Maud Jullien, it's because the work of traffic directing is often done by policemen; a force not respected by the general public because of frequent harassment. One Kinshasa resident told Jullien that he actually prefers the robots to policemen simply because they do their job:

"The robot is better than policemen because it does its job according to the order. It doesn't bother us, ask for documents, or arrest us."

About the author

Ben Johnson is the host of Marketplace Tech.

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