Roughly 3.3 million years after ancient humanoids invented the earliest known tools, mankind is on the cusp of perfecting sophisticated self-driving technology that has the potential to revolutionize transportation as we know it.
There is only one problem: kangaroos.
Volvo’s new self-driving technology uses a “large animal detection” system to prevent its S90 and XC90 car models from plowing into deer or moose while on the go, the BBC reports. But during tests in Australia, researchers realized the technology is completely befuddled by the hops of kangaroos.
“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,” Volvo Australia’s technical manager, David Pickett, told ABC.
To fix the problem, Volvo first needs to “start identifying the roo,” Pickett explained. That would make sense, seeing as the company initially developed its large animal detection software by dodging moose in Sweden.
Determined, Volvo has spent the past 18 months in Australia teaching its software not to hit kangaroos. The company needs to get it exactly right, after all, as there are more than 16,000 roo collisions a year in the country, NRMA Insurance reports.
“We identify what a human looks like by how a human walks, because it’s not only the one type of human — you’ve got short people, tall people, people wearing coats,” Pickett explained. “The same applies to a roo.” Jeva Lange