Driverless cars and kangaroos

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Driverless cars and kangaroos: obstacle avoidance system needed to stop collisions between Skippy and autonomy

In the future cars will take their occupants autonomously from one place to another with a bare minimum of input on the part of humans.

Companies like Volvo are teaching their seAilf-driving software everything it needs to know to be a safe, responsible pilot of a moving autonomous vehicle.

Interesting enough though, autonomous technologies are still being developed and it will be a while before they are perfected to the point where it will become almost one hundred per cent safe.

For example, in Australia, vehicle autonomy engineers are having a particularly rough time figuring out how the heck kangaroos work and the avoidance systems needed to stop collisions between Skippy and the autonomous car.

The news corporation, ABC reports that Volvo’s self-driving car program has been testing and honing its software’s recognition and reaction to animals on the roadway.

Deer, rabbits, and even moose are common sights on roads in many rural areas of the world and it we may never see a total end of animal road kill but Australia is posing a particularly unique challenge for self-driving cars.

Kangaroos, unlike other animals, do not walk and take steps but jump and bounce around their territories from spot to spot. In essence, they are “flying” objects for just a second at a time, landing, and then taking off again.

Volvo Australia’s technical manager David Pickett told ABC:
“We’ve noticed with the kangaroo being in mid-flight when it’s in the air it actually looks like it’s further away, then it lands and it looks closer,”

In short, the car can’t figure out how far the creature is away from the autonomous vehicle because the shape and position of the kangaroo’s body changes so rapidly as it hops along.

In the future, driverless cars will have to adapt to a host of different conditions and object and animal avoidance on the world’s roads. The technologies need to become expert in the unique conditions of each region of the world and the first truly capable self-driving system may still be some years away yet.

(As always, if you or a family member are considering buying a used car, don’t buy until you run a car check report with where you will find out the true history of the vehicle.)


Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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