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Kangaroos are causing havoc for Volvo’s self-driving cars

Volvo has hit a snag in the development of their self-driving car technology. But this time it’s not reliability or blowback from the taxi drivers union. It’s Skippy, the bush kangaroo.

The Guardian reports that the Swedish automaker, who have pressed ahead with their self-drive ambitions, have managed to figure out how to account for a number of different animals and their movements – but not hop of the friendly kangaroo.

Volvo uses the so-called ‘large animal detection system’ to avoid collisions with wildlife while on the road. The program has determined a way to avoid collisions with elk, deer and caribou – but the hop of the kangaroo keeps putting it off.

According to Volvo, the issue is the way in which the software works doesn’t work when it comes to ‘roos. The ground is the main reference point for the software in determining how far away a large animal is.

The problem though is that kangaroos – unlike other big animals – are not always on the ground. When the kangaroos are in the air, the software records the kangaroos as being far away. When they land, the software considers the ‘roos to be closer than they actually appear – an obvious problem when avoiding collisions.

The program was designed in Sweden, meaning that deer and moose were considered – but of course not kangaroos. Kangaroos are a major hazard in Australia, with the Herald Sun reporting that over 90 per cent of collisions between animals and cars are the result of pesky kangaroos.

The company hopes to have the issue ironed out before 2020, when the self-driving cars are predicted to be finished.

About the author

Originally from Cairns, Australia, Daniel currently resides in Berlin, Germany.

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