Self-Driving Tech Faces a Problem in Australia: Kangaroos

Because they are so damn hard to detect by the system due to their hopping.


Self-driving cars are the future!

That’s basically the mindset of most, if not all, car manufacturers right now, which is why they are constantly finding ways to develop the autonomous driving technology.

Areas of the autonomous driving include safety and security, in-car intelligence and assistance, autonomy, intelligent manufacturing, and onboard sensors. These areas are dependent on each other to produce a self-driving car, many of which are related to the external environment of the vehicle.

And Volvo has stumbled upon a specific problem when it comes to that: kangaroos.

The Swedish car manufacturer encountered this during car testing in Australia. It found that kangaroos were both a nuisance and very confusing to self-driving cars.

It could have been fine if these animals weren’t hopping. But that movement makes it difficult for the system to monitor, as the ground is used as the reference point.


Photo via Carbuzz

Volvo Australia’s technical manager David Pickett told the ABC that when the kangaroo is in the air, it actually looks like it’s further away. When it lands, it looks closer.

That’s not the case with other land animals as they are just stationary on the ground, walking or running. Like moose – it was proven that the vehicle’s detection system recognizes such animal during a test in Sweden. Other tests involved deer, elk, and caribou, with the system responding well.

Kangaroos have long posed a problem among vehicles and drivers on the streets, as they recklessly cross the streets more than other animals. In Australia, they cause the vast majority of vehicle collisions with animals. NRMA indicates that there were more than 16,000 collisions with kangaroo a year.

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Volvo is now looking to solve this Australian problem by making the system recognize the kangaroo, said Pickett. Next is to analyze the movement of kangaroos better than before.

But that only means that they have to move production deadlines. It may or may not meet its goal of making self-driving vehicles available for sale by 2021.

Prior to meeting the kangaroo problem, Volvo partnered with a few companies including NVIDIA and Autoliv to develop the autonomous vehicle technology.

Sources: ABC | Engadget

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Self-Driving Tech Faces a Problem in Australia: Kangaroos

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