Volvo Cars begins first ever Australian tests for kangaroo safety research

More than other countries in the world, motorists in Australia have to be constantly alert while driving in order to avoid one of the most costly causes of traffic collisions in the country, kangaroos.

According to the National Roads & Motorists’ Association (NRMA), there are over 20,000 kangaroo strikes on Australian roads each year, costing over AUD$75 million in insurance claims, and innumerable human cost of serious injuries and fatalities.

To tackle this alarming issue, Volvo has sent a team of safety experts to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve near Canberra to film and study the roadside behaviour of kangaroos in their natural habitat. The data collected will be used to develop the first ever kangaroo detection and collision avoidance system.

The prototype system fitted on a Volvo XC90 features radar and camera technology to detect kangaroos and pre-emptively applies the brakes automatically if an accident is imminent. It’s capable of reacting quicker than a human could.

“Whereas Volvo’s Pedestrian Detection technology is geared towards city driving, our kangaroo detection research is focusing on highway speed situations,” said Martin Magnusson, senior safety engineer at Volvo.

“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,” he added.

The Swedish carmaker has performed research into similar technology involving larger, slower moving animals like moose, reindeer and cows. Magnusson added, “kangaroos are smaller than these animals and their behaviour is more erratic.”

Kangaroo detection technology is one of the focus areas to realise Volvo’s vision that no one is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020, according to Volvo Car Australia Managing Director Kevin McCann.