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The Case Against Giant Traffic Robots

The towering figures are an eye-catching distraction from a lack of infrastructure planning in the Democratic Republic of Congo's ever-growing capital.
People gather on March 3, 2015, at the official presentation ceremony of three new robots recently installed in Kinshasa to help tackle the hectic traffic of the capital.
People gather on March 3, 2015, at the official presentation ceremony of three new robots recently installed in Kinshasa to help tackle the hectic traffic of the capital.(FEDERICO SCOPPA/AFP/Getty Images)

Kinshasa, the sprawling capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is trying an unusual approach to the city's notoriously frenetic traffic situation.

As first reported by AFP, Kinshasa installed three new robots last week to help direct traffic (two others were unveiled in 2013). The giant, Transformer-esque figures (which sport tinted sunglasses) tower over busy intersections, equipped with traffic lights and cameras that are meant to assist human police officers with issuing tickets for traffic violations. They can rotate in order to direct pedestrians through intersections when it is safe to cross. The Al-Jazeera video below explains their functionality in more depth.