March 5, 2015
Tamuke, Mwaluke and Kisanga are the names given to the three latest robots developed by Thérèse Izay and her team. They were commissioned by police authorities and handed over on March 4, 2015. There are now 5 robots in total regulating traffic in Kinshasa.
The robots are equipped with improved electronic components which make them better than the first generation of robots that cost about 15,000 dollars to manufacture, while the last three cost each 27, 500 dollars. Every robot weighs 250 kg and is 2.5 meters high.
Let's hope that Congolese officials purchase additional robots in order to help build the robotics industry in DRC.
February 12, 2014
Thérèse Izay, from Congo-Kinshasa, has developed humanoid robots that regulate traffic in Kinshasa. She is an industrial engineer in electronics, and the head of Women's Technology (Wotech), the association that is building these robots.
The first robot was commissioned in June 2013. It is a first generation robot whose mission is to secure the crossing of pedestrians on boulevard Lumumba, in the municipality of Limete. Placed on one side of the boulevard, this 2.50 meters high robot can raise an arm, bend another and thereby regulate the flow of vehicles on the one hand, and that of pedestrians on the other hand. Therefore, it combines the functions of traffic officer and traffic lights.
The robot was programmed to "speak" to pedestrians. He tells them when to cross the boulevard, and when not to cross. When pedestrians are waiting to cross, the robot plays a song that reminds the principles of road traffic.
A second and more advanced robot was commissioned in October 2013. He was placed at the center of a crossroad in front of the Congolese parliament where he fully assumes the role of traffic officer. This humanoid robot rotates his "chest" and raises his arms like a traffic officer to stop vehicles in one direction and allow the passage of vehicles in another one. The autonomy of the robot is provided by a solar panel placed over his head.
Road users and pedestrians appreciate the role played by these robots which are considered to be more efficient than traffic officers who are, nevertheless, never too far away.
The robots are made of aluminum to better withstand the equatorial climate. The humanoid robot located at the crossroad of the parliament is equipped with High Tech electronics. For example, it has a system that detects pedestrians who want to cross the road, as well as cameras set in his "eyes" and "shoulders" that film traffic continuously. Thanks to the antenna fixed on his head, data can be sent to the control center via an Internet Protocol (IP) transmission.
Finally, these robots are aesthetically pleasing, given the precarious working conditions of the members of the Women Technology association. The manufacture of one of these robots costs about 15,000 dollars, almost entirely financed by Mrs. Izay Kirongozi.
This inventor is already planning to manufacture robot soldiers, road cleaning robots, robots that can intervene in a toxic environment, etc. Thérèse Izay is the proof that women have an important role to play in the industrialization effort of the African continent, and that they are just as talented as men.
If the authorities of Congo-Kinshasa have vision, these inventions must absolutely be considered as Congolese technology of highly strategic interest because its applications go beyond traffic regulation. Unfortunately, one can fear that this technology is bought by foreign powers that are more likely to understand the technological challenges of the future compared to African States.
Africans must understand something that is fundamental: when put in working conditions that are equivalent to those of the so-called developed nations, they will accomplish extraordinary feats whose historical equivalent will remind us of the pyramids of Egypt.