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Volvo Debuts Kangaroo Detection Technology;Could Reduce Accidents When Approved For Production

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On: Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 12:09PM | By: Carl Malek

Volvo Debuts Kangaroo Detection Technology;Could Reduce Accidents When Approved For Production

While the kangaroo has often been known in popular media as a cute and cuddly mammal that hops along Australian forests and prairies all day, the stories hide the reality of just how dangerous things can become when these adorable animals and their wicked kicking power begin bounding across the road (similar to the problem faced by U.S. motorists in high deer areas). Volvo has stepped up to the challenge of curbing driver-roo crashes, and has developed an all new technology that can detect kangaroos.

While it is currently in the prototype stages, the new kangaroo detection system does have a formidable task ahead of it. On average Australian motorists hit about 20,000 kangaroos per year, which translates into about 75 million Australian dollars in insurance claims related to car-kangaroo crashes. It also means a higher risk of injury to motorists, especially if a kangaroo is hit on an Australian freeway at high speeds. A team of Volvo engineers and safety experts are now in Australia to study the behavior of kangaroos in the wild, especially the reactions displayed by roos when near a busy road. This analysis is crucial to fine-tuning the system in order to prevent or mitigate kangaroo-car accidents.

Volvo says that the system uses cameras and radar to detect kangaroos on the side of the road and, if needed, apply the brakes to either avoid or lessen the effects of a kangaroo-related car crash. While the system itself may seem ahead of its time, at first glance, Volvo has some prior experience with this technology, especially in its native Sweden where larger and slower animals are commonplace on roads. "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 behavior is more erratic. This is why it's important that we test and calibrate our technology on real kangaroos in their natural environment," stated Senior Safety Engineer Martin Magnusson.

Volvo did not formally announce a possible launch date for the kangaroo detection system, but they did reveal that the novel system is part of the company's broader strategy of preventing serious injury or death in its products worldwide by 2020. If the technology does make an appearance in Australia, look for the system to possibly make its debut on the XC90 or the upcoming S90 flagship sedan before eventually trickling down to other members of the Australian Volvo lineup. As for buyers here in the U.S., lessons learned from the kangaroo spec unit could help make a similar system for avoiding deer much more accurate and reliable. This would be a blessing for customers (including this author) who live in high deer crash zones; late summer and early fall in these areas bring an increased rate of deer-car crashes from spooked deer that run out into the roadway, often with little warning.


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