It seems that autonomous cars in Australia have a problem unlikely to be experienced in other countries: they get confused by Kangaroos.
Now, if you look at the figures, it’s not only driverless cars that have a problem, because normal drivers apparently hit around 20,000 of the animals every year.
So, maybe if a driverless system is in charge, things might improve?
The Australian media has been reporting on the story of Volvo testing their self-driving technology in the outback.
The Swedish can manufacture has a system called the Large Animal Detection System which comes with the latest S90 and XC90 models.
It’s designed to detect oncoming caribou, deer and elk. Although, and I would need to check, it’s hopefully not confined to that selection of animals – what happens if you round the corner in your Scandinavian cruiser only to find yourself staring at an elephant, or hippo?
Back to Oz though. Volvo’s Australian technical manager told ABC that: “”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.”
I guess that’s followed by a rapid deployment of brakes and sharp intake of human breath.
It’s a big problem in the country, as the Australia’s National Roads and Motorists’ Association reckons that 80% of animal collisions in the country involve kangaroos. And this results in millions of insurance claims every year.
But, things might change at least for Volvo drivers if they get their research right: they are collecting tonnes of data which should create the perfect system for avoiding the hopping creatures.
And if they get that right, Volvo will certainly have a marketing advantage over other car manufacturers.
So Skippy, things might be looking up!