Volvo have invested an enormous amount of resources into ensuring that their cars are among the safest on the road and according to the Swedish brand’s Vision 2020 strategy, the company has a goal that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020.
One of the active safety features, available on the 2017 XC90 and S90, is the large animal detection system that can detect large animals such as elk, horses or moose (we assume that wildebeest or kudu would be recognised too), night or day, however the system is struggling to recognizing kangaroos.
Although the lack of roo detection may not concern the rest of the world, it does affect your buddy or ex-pat South African relative living in Oz. In Australia there are about 16 000 collisions between a car and a kangaroo every year (this is followed in second place by collisions with dogs. Wombats and cattle also make their way into insurance claims.)
The spontaneous moves of kangaroos confuses Volvo’s Large Animal Detection system.
“We’ve noticed with the kangaroo being in mid-flight when it’s in the air, it actually looks like it’s further away, then it lands and it looks closer,” Volvo Australia’s technical manager David Pickett told ABC.
The cars use the ground as a reference point, but the system becomes confused by a hopping kangaroo, unable to determine how far away it is. In addition to this the shape of the kangaroo varies.
“If you look at a roo sitting at the side of a road, standing at the side of a road, in motion, all these shapes are actually different,” continued Pickett.
To fix this problem, Volvo sent part of its research team to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in Canberra 18 months ago to study the bouncing marsupials and their habits.
Vovlo engineers are currently working to improve the system that uses several radars and cameras, to allow it to detect kangaroos and apply the brakes if a collision is imminent.
“It’s quite interesting for them,” said Mr Picket and then he confirmed that the problem won’t delay the eventual rollout of driverless cars in Australia.