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Volvo Cars tackles kangaroo safety research; highway-speed detection and avoidance

Volvo Cars is developing kangaroo detection technology to solve one of the most costly causes of traffic collisions in Australia. A team of Volvo Cars safety experts travelled to the Australian Capital Territory this week to film and study the roadside behavior of kangaroos in their natural habitat. The data Volvo Cars collects will be used to develop the first kangaroo detection and collision avoidance system.

According to Australia’s National Roads & Motorists’ Association (NRMA), there are more than 20,000 kangaroo strikes on Australian roads each year costing more than AU $75 million in insurance claims as well as serious human injuries and fatalities.

To help address this Volvo Cars is developing a system that uses radar and camera technology to detect kangaroos and automatically apply the brakes if an accident is imminent.

The technology behind this research into kangaroo detection is an evolution of Volvo Cars’ City Safety which detects cars, cyclists and pedestrians both during the day and night.

A radar sensor in the grille scans the road ahead to detect moving objects such as animals, cars, cyclists and pedestrians. A very advanced light-sensitive, high-resolution camera in the windshield works in parallel with the radar to detect which way the object is moving and help the computer decide what action to take, if any.

When the object is detected, it takes 0.05 seconds for the computer system to react on the situation; human reaction time, by comparison, is about 1.2 seconds.

Whereas Volvo Cars’ Pedestrian Detection technology is geared towards city driving, our kangaroo detection research is focusing on highway speed situations. Kangaroos are very unpredictable animals and difficult to avoid, but we are confident we can refine our technology to detect them and avoid collisions on the highway.

In Sweden we have done research involving larger, slower moving animals like moose, reindeer and cows which are a serious threat on our roads. Kangaroos are smaller than these animals and their behaviour is more erratic. This is why it’s important that we test and calibrate our technology on real kangaroos in their natural environment.

The Volvo Cars City Safety technology is a true state-of-the-art technology, because the brakes can be primed in milliseconds - much faster than a human reacts. We are only at the beginning of what is possible.

Martin Magnusson, Senior Safety Engineer at Volvo Cars

Volvo Car Australia Managing Director Kevin McCann said that research into kangaroo detection technology is one of the latest focus areas aimed at realising Volvo Cars’ vision that no one is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.

Volvo Cars is conducting its kangaroo detection research this week at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve near Canberra. Canberra is one of the nation’s hotspots for kangaroo collisions.


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Next up must be cow detection and avoidance for India. And then move on to sheep and goat detection and avoidance for France, Spain and Italy.


It is based on this work:

' The system builds on technology already used in cars in Sweden which applies a car’s breaks if animals are detected.

“In Sweden we have done research involving larger, slower moving animals like elk, reindeer and cows, which are a serious threat on our roads," Martin Magnusson, Volvo Cars safety engineer, said in a statement.

Personally I welcome serious, methodical and conscientious work towards assisted driving, and deplore the release of half baked beta software which has not ev3n been set to make itself unavailable in circumstances where it is quite unable to cope, such as where there is oncoming traffic.

That is wholly irresponsible behaviour, for the sake of declaring Tesla in the lead.

They aren't.

Just reckless.

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