National Geographic : 2014 Aug
NEXT PHOTOS: PASCAL MAITRE (TOP); REBECCA HALE, NGM STAFF. ART: ÁLVARO VALIÑO Obey the Robot “Drivers, you can make way for pedestrians,” booms a deep Darth Vader voice (in French) on Kinshasa’s busy Lumumba Boulevard. Cars halt, people cross safely. Incroyable. Meet the traffic cop of the future. It’s an eight-foot-tall aluminum robot with cameras for eyes and fists of green and red lights, deployed to pacify the gridlocked, ticket-evading capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its success delights Thérèse Izay Kirongozi of Women’s Technology, the engineering co-op that designed and built the robot for $15,000. So far the city has installed two. Kirongozi, who counts 600 bad intersections, expects to sell more. Some grouse that ro- bots can’t make arrests. Then again, they don’t take bribes. —Tom O’Neill Kinshasa’s solar- powered traffic robot can videotape infractions. It also plays music for those waiting in line. Ancient Tines Witness one of the first table forks. This Persian specimen—perhaps 15 centuries old, thought to have been found in 1930s Iraq—is on display at Dumbarton Oaks museum in Washington, D.C. Curator John Hanson says it likely survived because it’s silver, not wood. “Archaeology favors the rich.” —Catherine Zuckerman Flamingos likely stand on one leg to conserve body heat.