An April fools joke? No – Volvo is indeed working on a software to detect kangaroos to avoid collision. You might ask: ‘Why does a Swedish car manufacturer work on something as odd as this?’
This is a serious issue in our country.
We have 20,000 kangaroo collisions a year with many left injured or worse. Insurance costs are estimated at around $75 million. Volvo is now working on a solution.
In an interview Martin Magnusson, Volvo safety engineer, reveals: “Volvo ‘City Safe’ system is an automatic break system for the city. To recognise bicylists and pedestrians, Volvo integrated a high resolution camera and a radar. The team is now studying kangaroo behaviour and movements in the Tidbinbilla National Park near Canberra on off road tracks with a XC90. A camera records the jumps across the roads. These recordings are used to ‘train’ the system for early kangaroo recognition and automatic break.
The challenge is that other systems with pedestrian and bicyclist safety works up to speeds of 80km/h, whereas the kangaroo detection is required to work with highway speeds.
Kangaroos jump up to 1.50 metres tall and are up to 50km/h fast. Small wallabys are between 12 and 20 kilos, whereas red kangaroos are 1,80m tall and up to 90kgs. These differences pose a huge technical challenge to Volvo.
5150 vehicles sold annually in Australia seems worthwhile to invest in solving this challenge.