Swedish car maker Volvo is developing a new type of “kangaroo detection” system that is hoped to reduce the number of collisions between motor vehicles and the cute marsupials.
In Australia, the kangaroo reigns as Australia’s largest marsupial and it is involved in animal-car collisions throughout the country. When it runs, a kangaroo can reach speeds up to about 37 miles per hour.
Volvo estimates that there are more than “20,000 kangaroo strikes on Australian roads each year costing over $53 million in insurance claims.”
Volvo already has the “City Safety” system which is designed to scan the road ahead of the vehicle for pedestrians and animals by using a radar sensor and high-resolution camera. The system then automatically hits the brakes if necessary.
According to Martin Magnusson, Volvo's senior safety engineer, adapting the system to visualize kangaroos is a challenge. “In Sweden we have done research involving larger, slower moving animals like moose, reindeer and cows which are a serious threat on our roads. Kangaroos are smaller than these animals and their behavior is more erratic. This is why it’s important that we test and calibrate our technology on real kangaroos in their natural environment.”
Australian drivers continuously complain that they hit or come very close to hitting kangaroos on multiple occasions. They seem to appear out of nowhere. Volvo’s new system, which promises to apply the brakes in “millisecond - much faster than a human reacts” will reduce the number of car-kangaroo collisions throughout the country.
Volvo has sent a team of Swedish safety engineers to Canberra, the Australian capital, to film the roadside behavior of kangaroos and collect data for its system.
Magnussen further noted that, “Kangaroos are very unpredictable animals and difficult to avoid, but we are confident we can refine our animal detection technology to detect them and avoid collisions on the highway.”
In fact, the kangaroo-dodging initiative is part of Volvo’s larger “vision that no one is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.”