NO – it’s not April 1. Volvo engineers are developing a system that can detect if a kangaroo is about to hop in front of an approaching car.
Modelled on the car maker’s City Safety technology that detects cars, cyclists and pedestrians, the new system uses a radar sensor in the car’s grille to scan the road ahead for moving objects such as kangaroos, and a camera mounted in the windscreen to detect which way the animal is moving.
A computer analyses the information and decides whether to apply the car’s brakes. Volvo says the system can react to a kangaroo and apply the brakes in 0.05 seconds, compared with a human driver’s reaction time of 1.2 seconds.
Volvo is developing its kangaroo detection system in the Tidbinbilla nature reserve near Canberra in Australia. The area is a national hotspot for kangaroo and car collisions. Each year in Australia there are 22,000 such incidents, costing insurers AU $75 million (£35m).
One key challenge facing Volvo’s engineers is the uncertain behaviour of the marsupials. A spokesman said: “In Sweden, we have done research involving larger, slower moving animals such as moose, reindeer and cows which are a serious threat on our roads. Kangaroos are smaller than these animals and their behaviour is more erratic.”
Skippy was unavailable for comment.