news Volvo is developing a unique system that uses radar and camera technology to detect kangaroos, in order to avoid collisions with the animals, one of the most common causes of traffic collisions in Australia.
Martin Magnusson, Senior Safety Engineer at Volvo Cars said in a statement: “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.” Through this technology, kangaroos are detected and brakes are automatically applied. Volvo Cars has collected data that will help create first ever kangaroo detection and collision avoidance system.
This technology has been derived from the City Safety feature which detects cars, cyclists and pedestrians both during the day and night. The road ahead is scanned by a radar sensor in the grille that detects moving objects like animals, cars, cyclists and pedestrians.
A very advanced light-sensitive, high-resolution camera in the windscreen works in harmony with the radar to detect which way the object is moving and help the computer decide what action to take. When the object is detected, it takes 0.05 seconds for the computer system to react on the situation. This can be compared with the human reaction time of about 1.2 seconds.
According to the National Roads & Motorists’ Association (NRMA), there are over 20,000 kangaroo strikes on Australian roads each year costing over $75 million in insurance claims. Human lives lost and injuries caused due to this are difficult to calculate. Hence, a team of Volvo Cars safety experts travelled to the Australian Capital Territory recently to film and study the roadside behaviour of kangaroos in their natural habitat.
“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,” said Magnusson. He added: “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.”
Volvo Cars’ vision that no one is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020, inspired this project. Magnusson said: “Whereas Volvo Cars’ Pedestrian Detection technology is geared towards city driving, our kangaroo detection research is focusing on highway speed situations. This type of technology is not designed to take responsibility away from drivers. If the driver is inattentive the car will warn him or her and eventually intervene with hard braking to avoid a potential collision.”
Volvo Cars is conducting its kangaroo detection research this week at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve near Canberra, which is supposed to be a hotspot for kangaroo collisions in Australia. “We are only at the beginning of what is possible,” said Magnusson.
Image credit: Anat El Hashahar