At first glance it might seem like a late April Fools' Day joke, but Volvo has announced that it will begin developing the world’s first-ever kangaroo detection and collision avoidance system.
Using an adaptation of Volvo’s existing City Safety protection system, the kangaroo detection system will utilise radar and camera technology. But unlike the existing system which can detect pedestrians and cyclists at low speeds, the new system will work at higher speeds.
Already Volvo has tailored the system to work with larger wildlife found in Sweden, such as moose, reindeer and cows, but the smaller body-size, rapid erratic movement, and unusual gait of a kangaroo require unique detection parameters.
A team of Volvo engineers will conduct research at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve near Canberra, filming and studying kangaroos in their natural habitat.
Canberra is one of the nation’s kangaroo hot spots, but as any regional Australian resident will tell you, there are very few places you can travel outside of Australian cities where there isn’t a danger of 'roo strike'.
“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.” Senior safety engineer at Volvo, Martin Magnusson said.
“Whereas Volvo Cars’ Pedestrian Detection technology is geared towards city driving, our kangaroo detection research is focusing on highway speed situations,”
Insurer NRMA claims that 20,000 kangaroo strikes occur each year on Australian roads, adding up to $75 million in insurance claims.
While other manufacturers have focussed on reducing damage sustained in a kangaroo collision, Volvo will be the first to offer an avoidance system... if the company can get it to work.
Both Holden and Ford have used kangaroo crash test dummies in the development of local vehicles, while Toyota’s development of the new Hilux included a kangaroo-simulating bullbar strike as part of the internal crash test program.
Like Volvo’s existing City Safety program, if a driver is slow to react to an impending kangaroo collision, the system will provide a warning and brake to reduce the severity of an impact.
The new system forms part of Volvo’s vision that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a Volvo car by 2020.
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