Volvo’s self-driving cars are thwarted by kangaroos

Self-driving cars, beware.
Image: Shutterstock / Max Niessen

Self-driving cars can make it through ice, snow, thunderstorms, and the winding streets of Pittsburgh.

What can’t they handle? Kangaroos.

Volvo admitted this week that its self-driving technology’s “Large Animal Detection system” was flummoxed by kangaroos.

The cars can deal with roaming deer, elk, and caribou, but can’t process kangaroos because of the animals’ “unique method of movement,” or hopping.

Any company that would be working on the autonomous car concept would be having to do the same developmental work, Volvo Australia Managing Director Kevin McCann said. We brought our engineers into Australia to begin the exercise of gathering the data of how the animals can move and behave so the computers can understand it more.

When its in the air, it actually looks like its further away, then it lands and it looks closer, McCann added.

Volvo expects to solve its kangaroo problem by the time its self-driving cars are scheduled to hit the market in 2020. That’s crucial for the Australian market, where kangaroos not deer cause the most accidents involving animals.

Can self-driving Ubers handle kangaroos? Tbd.

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