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Volvo's Self-driving Car Delaying in Australia Due to Kangaroos

The problem with kangaroos is they simply move differently to just about any other animal you can think of, and their hopping is baffling the Volvo system.

AFP Relaxnews

Updated:July 4, 2017, 12:50 PM IST
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Volvo's Self-driving Car Delaying in Australia Due to Kangaroos
Volvo Autonomous Driving is being tested on all kinds of roads and conditions. (Image: AFP Relaxnews)
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It seems like almost every vehicle manufacturer is working on self-driving technology right now, and you don't have to be a scientist to imagine just how much testing is required to make the technology safe for use on public roads. As well as different types of road, weather, and environments, self-driving cars also have to be able to cope with other vehicles, pedestrians, and other variables. Even when you think you've thought of everything, there's always the possibility of a curveball, and that's certainly what Volvo has found while testing its own version of the technology in Australia.

Although the technology has already been designed to identify and make allowances for large animals, it appears the Volvos are really struggling to cope with kangaroos. Even though it's one of Australia's most identifiable and symbolic animals, the kangaroo is also well-known as a nuisance on roads in areas where they're prevalent. But as well as being a potential collision hazard, the way the kangaroos move is proving to be just too confusing for the self-driving cars.



The detection system employed by Volvo has been exposed to large animals before such as moose while undergoing testing in Sweden and it's already been shown to be able to respond to deer, elk, and caribou. The problem with kangaroos is they simply move differently to just about any other animal you can think of, and their hopping is baffling the Volvo system. Volvo Australia's technical manager, David Pickett, told the ABC network, "When it's in the air it actually looks like it's further away, then it lands and it looks closer," so it's easy to understand why it's proving to be a problem.

Kangaroos are actually responsible for the overwhelming majority of collisions vehicles have with animals in Australia, so developing the self-driving cars' detection system to be able to see, accurately assess and evaluate their movement is just another part of the process of bringing the technology to market. For the moment at least, Volvo is saying doesn't expect the kangaroo problem to prevent it from meeting the scheduled production deadline of having its self-driving vehicles available for sale by as soon as the year 2021.
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