Volvo creates roo detection technology
VOLVO says NRMA research shows there are 20,000 kangaroo collisions on Australian roads each year, costing $75 million.
Its answer? Beginning tests in the ACT for unique safety technology that can detect kangaroos and avoid collisions, technology it ultimately hopes to put in future Volvos.
A team of Volvo safety engineers has been flown in from Sweden to study and film the roadside behaviours of kangaroos.
Hopefully they'll discover what we locals already know. The things stand still by the roadside, lulling you into a false sense of security, then bounce themselves in front of your bumper when it's too late to stop.
Smack! Radiator split, bits of car everywhere, guilt at killing a national symbol.
Seriously speaking though, despite the $75million in insurance claims, the human cost of serious injuries and fatalities from animal collisions is incalculable.
Volvo hopes its radar and camera technology can be used to detect kangaroos and automatically apply the brakes if an accident is imminent.
"Whereas Volvo Cars' Pedestrian Detection technology is geared towards city driving, animal detection is designed to work at highway speeds," said Volvo Cars' senior safety engineer Martin Magnusson.
"Kangaroos are very unpredictable animals and difficult to avoid, but we are confident we can refine our animal detection technology to detect them and avoid collisions on the highway," Mr Magnusson said.
Volvo Cars Australia managing director Kevin McCann said kangaroo research was the latest focus area to help realise Volvo Cars' vision that no one is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.
"This type of technology is not designed to take responsibility away from drivers. If the driver is inattentive, the car will warn them and eventually make a hard braking to avoid a collision," Mr McCann said.
The 'roo detection works by a radar sensor in the grille scanning the road ahead to detect moving objects. A high-resolution camera in the windscreen detecting which way the object is moving.
The system processes 15 images every second and helps the computer decide which action to take, if any.
It takes an attentive driver 1.2 seconds to detect danger and apply the brakes, compared to about 0.05 seconds for the computer. But is it smart enough to work out how dumb a suicidal kangaroo can be?