Thérèse Izay Kirongozi, CEO, WoTech
Thérèse Izay Kirongozi is from the capital city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She has developed humanoid robots that regulate traffic in Kinshasa. Mrs. Kirongozi is an industrial engineer in electronics, and the head of Women’s Technology (Wotech), the association that is manufacturing these robots. There are at least 5 of them that are regulating traffic in Kinshasa.
The first generation of robots was commissioned in 2013 and cost about 15,000 dollars each to manufacture, while the latest generation unveiled on march 4, 2015, cost about 27,500 dollars each. They weigh 250 kg each, are 2.5 meters high and are made of aluminium to better withstand the equatorial climate. The autonomy of the robots is provided by a solar panel placed over their head. These humanoid traffic robots can rotate their chest and raise their arms like a human traffic officer would do to stop vehicles in one direction, and allow their flow in another one. Some of these robots can detect pedestrians and are programmed to “speak” to tell them when the road can be crossed or not.
The new generation of robots conceived by the inventor has cameras set in their “eyes” and “shoulders” that film traffic continuously. Thanks to the antenna fixed on top of their head, data can be transmitted to a control center via an Internet Protocol (IP) transmission. Thérèse Izay Kirongozi is already envisioning the manufacturing of robot soldiers, road cleaning robots, robots that can intervene in a toxic environment, etc.
This is quite an accomplishment to be celebrated if we consider that in a country like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) only 10.7 percent of adult women and 36.2 percent of men have gained a secondary or tertiary level of education, and that the DRC ranks 147 out of 187 countries in the Gender Inequality Index Rank 2013. She is the proof that women have an important role to play in the industrialization process of the African continent, and that they are just as talented as men.