What do you think are the most costly causes of traffic collisions in Australia? You probably think you are being funny by mentioning kangaroos. In fact, they are causing a huge portion of the most costly collisions in Australia and now Volvo Cars is developing a system to detect kangaroos on the road.
Team of experts are filming and observing the roadside behaviour of kangaroos in their natural habitat in Australia, which should help make predictions about their possible step into the road. Volvo is developing the first such kangaroo detection system ever, which is why all possible data need to be collected from scratch in order to address this problem appropriately. And there is no denying it is quite a big problem.
National Roads & Motorists’ Association counted over 20,000 kangaroo strikes on Australian roads each year. However, even though animal fatalities are important, Association marks that these accidents are extremely costly – they cost over 75 million of Australian dollars in insurance claims every year, plus the incalculable cost of human injuries and even fatalities. Volvo is recognizing the problem and is developing a kangaroo detection system, which should help preventing a big part of these accidents.
The system is an improved version of Volvo’s City Safety which detects cars, cyclists and pedestrians. It uses radar, which scans road ahead for moving animals, cars, cyclists and pedestrians, and a camera, which detects the way the object is moving. Computer, using this data, makes a decision in just 0.05 seconds, while human would take on average 1.2 seconds. However, to adapt the City Safety to work with kangaroos on highways is not going to be easy. Martin Magnusson, Senior Safety Engineer at Volvo Cars, said: “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.”
Volvo is trying to adapt system to the specificity of each country – in Sweden they are working to prevent collisions with moose, cows and other big animals that are the big problem there. However, kangaroos are smaller, less predictable and faster, which will make the task more difficult. But Volvo is confident and is still on its way to achieve the unprecedented goal of no casualties or serious injuries in Volvo cars by 2020.