Kangaroos confuse Volvo’s self-driving cars! Here’s why

Volvo has come to understand that the hopping of a Kangaroo is confusing its Large Animal Detection system

By: | Updated: June 30, 2017 4:18 PM

Self-driving technology is the way forward for several auto manufacturers, but while the tech departments of major car companies are working overtime to bring finesse to the system, there is a humungous number of hurdles and obstacles that the self-driving car will have to recognise. The problem of a kid running out on the road is smaller than that what these Volvo cars are facing in Australia - kangaroos. The Large Animal Detection system on the Swedish car manufacturer's 2017 S90 and XC90 models have been left confused by the erratic movement of a kangaroo. Animal collision cases are big in Australia with about 80% of the accidents involving the country's national animal. While understanding the movement, of say an elephant, may be easy for an intelligent system like this, but kangaroos have a distinct way of getting around - they hop.

Volvo has come to understand that the hopping of a Kangaroo is confusing the system. When the kangaroo is on the ground, the car will understand the proximity to it, however, when it hops and is in the air, the system thinks the animal is far away. This phenomenon happening repetitively with the hop of the kangaroo ends up in a misjudgement by the 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's Australia technical manager told ABC.

Safety engineers at Volvo began filming kangaroo's roadside behaviour in order to study it at a nationally recognised hotspot for collisions in 2015. The data collected will be used to develop a system of radar and cameras that can detect kangaroos and apply the brakes if a collision is imminent. Volvo plans to create an impeccable system to ensure no one is killed in such collisions by the year 2020.

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