Kangaroo Avoidance System

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By Sean Coughlin


A major danger and killer on the roads in the country side of Australia is Kangaroo’s and loose live stock, especially at night on a dirt road. To be able to have a vehicle with the technology to detect and manoeuvre around the animal before it is too late could be a life saver. Swedish car maker Volvo says it is a step closer to coming up with technology that can spot a kangaroo and slam on the brakes to avoid impact and has already started testing in Australia.

The latest Volvo vehicles can already use the automatic braking system to avoid rear-ending the vehicle in front, and can spot pedestrians and cyclists day or night, but it has now turned its attention to animals. Volvo safety engineers say they are starting with big, slow moving animals first, such as cows and sheep, but they say trying to detect and then avoid a jumping kangaroo is “not impossible”. Just like Subaru’s Eyesight technology which can detect an approaching collision speed and either warn or automatically stop the vehicle when in the emergency brake mode.

The testing system processes 15 images every second and can react to an emergency in half the time of a human, Volvo claims. Magnusson says it takes 1.2 seconds for an attentive driver to detect danger and then apply the brakes, compared to about 0.5 second for the computer system.

To test this new system’s capabilities, Volvo has sent two engineers to Australia over the past 12 months to study the roadside behaviour of kangaroos, and filmed hours of footage to take back to Sweden when developing the software. News.com.au got a direct quote from the engineers stating “As we have discovered, kangaroos are really unpredictable and difficult to avoid, but we don’t think (avoiding them) is impossible,” said Volvo safety expert Martin Magnusson. “Kangaroos are smaller than the other animals we are trying to detect and their behaviour is more erratic, but we are working on it very intensively.” Mr Magnusson said the technology that can avoid kangaroos and other animals is still a few years away, but he is confident of finding a solution.

Although this system is already in testing fields of other vehicle manufacturers it is on that can change a lot for the farming and country civilians, especially if it means able to avoid hitting a kangaroo or any other farm land animal that may cause serious injury to the driver and passengers. This is technology needed for the near future with most accidents being caused by animals on country roads. Having a system help the driver protect his/her family while on their journey is a step closer to ensuring every civilian that is driving either in rough terrain or dark dirt roads at night can arrive at their destination safe and sound. This will also lower the risk of any highway accidents.

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