Stateside, as large mammals go, deer are probably the single biggest threat to cars traveling the highways. Now, imagine a smaller, "very unpredictable" deer that hops on two legs: that's the hell of driving in Australia, where some 20,000 kangaroo collisions are said to happen annually.
Volvo is trying to tackle the problem using radar and cameras to sense them along the road ahead and automatically brake as necessary. Similar technology already exists for other creatures — including human pedestrians — but 'roos are trickier. A Volvo engineer quoted in the company's release puts its best, largely because he references both moose and reindeer: "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 behaviour is more erratic. This is why it's important that we test and calibrate our technology on real kangaroos in their natural environment," he says.
There's no word on when kangaroo avoidance will actually become a standard feature on new Volvos sold Down Under, but it may not be long: all the technology and sensors already exist, it's mostly just a matter of calibrating the systems appropriately. Volvo conducted real-world research (hopefully without killing any live animals) near the Australian capital of Canberra last week.