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The relentless march of the self-driving car is in danger of grinding to a halt in Australia because the technology cannot cope with kangaroos.
While other large animals walk, run, trot of lope – kangaroos jump.
This has proved all too much for Volvo, the Guardian reported.
In fact, Volvo has been trying to solve the kangaroo problem for nearly two years, having sent experts to examine them in their natural habitat in 2015.
There are more than 16,000 kangaroo collisions on Australia’s roads, which cost the insurance industry just over £44 million.
The company has been working on tweaking its self-braking system to deal with the problem.
“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,” Martin Magnusson, Volvo’s safety manager said when the work first started.
“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.”
But despite the company’s best efforts, Volvo’s large animal detection system has yet to crack the problem.
David Pickett, Volvo’s technical manager told the Australian broadcaster, ABC, that tracking a jumping kangaroo is difficult for detection systems to monitor.
“When it’s in the air, it actually looks like it’s further away, then it lands and it looks closer.”
Nevertheless, Volvo remains confident that it will have solved the conundrum by the time its self-driving cars are available in 2020.
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