Volvo admits its self-driving cars are confused by kangaroos

Swedish companys animal detection system can identify and avoid deer, elk and caribou, but is yet to work against the marsupials movements

Volvos self-driving auto is unable to detect kangaroos because hopping confounds its systems, the Swedish carmaker says.

The companys Large Animal Detection system can identify and avoid deer, elk and caribou, but early testing in Australia displays it cannot adjust to the kangaroos unique method of motion.

The managing director of Volvo Australia, Kevin McCann, said the discovery was part of the development and testing of driverless technology, and wouldnt pose problems by the time Volvos driverless autoes would be available in 2020.

Any company that would be working on the autonomous vehicle notion would be having to do the same developmental run, he told. We brought our technologists into Australia to begin the exercise of meeting the data of how the animals can move and behave so the computers can understand it more.

Earlier this month, Volvos Australian technical administrator, David Pickett, told the ABC the difficulties had arisen because their vehicles object detection systems employed the ground as information purposes.

This entailed a kangaroos hopping was attaining it is challenging to magistrate how close they were.

When its in the air, it actually looks like its further away, then it lands and it seems closer, he said.

McCann added: Autonomous cars are a continuing developing. A driverless automobile does not yet exist, and developing technology to recognise kangaroos is an example of that development.

Volvo
Volvos Trent Victor runs through some of the features of the self-driving XC90 during a trial in Adelaide. Photo: Rick Goodman/ AAP

We are developing a auto that can recognise kangaroos, he said.

Volvos detection system was designed in Sweden, where it was tested in areas populated with moose, before trials at a nature reserve in Canberra uncovered the problem with kangaroos.

Kangaroos cause more collisions than any other animal in Australia the marsupials are responsible for about 90% of crashes between vehicles and animals although most are not serious.

A spokeswoman for Robert Bosch Australia, which develops component technology for driverless automobiles, said their system could theoretically recognise kangaroos.

Although it hasnt been tested in a kangaroo-specific environment, there was an instance where black swans were interfering, and so they had to build into the car the ability to recognise animals, Amy Kaa said.

Volvo plans to release its first autonomous vehicles by 2020 and has pledged zero fatalities or serious injuries from all its cars by that time.

The whole development process has to take in as many fluctuations of conditions as possible, McCann told. Its a reasonably drawn-out process. We dont even refer to it specifically as kangaroo detecting, its what we call small animal detection.

The carmaker offers now semi-autonomous features in its S90 and XC90 models, which it tells dedicate a savor of the future of autonomous driving.

The cars can automatically preserve a safe distance from the vehicle in front, and place potential collisions in urban environments. McCann told a feature called run-off road assist would maintain passengers safe in near-collisions.

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