Although the idea may be ludicrous to some, kangaroo-caused automobile accidents are a very real problem in the Australian outback. Studies show that the marsupial plays a role in more annual deaths than crocodiles, jellyfish and sharks and is defined by some sources as the animal responsible for the most Australian deaths.
Of course, the animal responsible for the more than 20,000 “kangaroo-caused” car accidents in Australia could be a matter of debate.
Regardless, these incidents cost more than AU $75 million and cause numerous fatalities and injuries.
Fun fact: an adult red kangaroo tops out at 200 pounds and can leap 25 feet without warning, so the prevalence of the issue is actually quite understandable.
Here’s where Volvo comes in: the Swedish company has been manufacturing cars and prioritizing safety since the company produced its first vehicle in 1927. Because of its Nordic origin, Volvo has cut its automotive teeth creating cars that can keep users safe despite collisions with big game.
Given the pressing situation in Australia, Volvo has taken steps to adjust its safety features for kangaroos instead of moose.
It is developing cameras and radar that are engineered to detect kangaroos much like they detect cars, cyclists, pedestrians and dogs. Milliseconds upon detecting of any of these on-road presences, the equipped model will be able to prime its breaks and ready the car for a quick stop. If the driver still is not aware of the present danger, the car can warn the driver and break hard on its own.
Apparently this new device lowers the time necessary to detect a kangaroo from 1.2 seconds for a human driver without the cameras and radar to .05 seconds.
As David K. Gibson of the BBC comments, “The driver will find this sudden stop surprising, certainly, though perhaps less surprising than a windshield full of kangaroo.”
The fact that Volvo is making such large adjustments for such a specific issue may surprise some readers; however, that 20,000 yearly incidents rate doesn’t mesh well with Volvo’s famous goal regarding the year 2020.
Announced by Anders Eugensson (Volvo’s head of government affairs) in December of 2012, Volvo aims to use smart technology to put an end to all deaths and personal injuries in its new cars by year 2020.
In 2007, Volvo also announced that it would make their cars crash-proof by 2020, so 2020 promises to be an exciting year for car safety.
In more recent news, early this October Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson gave a speech revealing that Volvo would accept full liability in the event that one of its self-driving cars were to get into an accident and the vehicle was to be found driving in autonomous mode at the time of the crash.
Volvo’s self driving cars aren’t expected to hit the road until 2017, but other self driving car creators such as Google and Mercedes-Benz have also said that they would take responsibility for accidents caused by their models.