Linked to in-grill machine cannon?
Now that would liven up a cross country drive in Australia.
Swedish motor manufacturer Volvo is developing "kangaroo detection" tech aimed at reducing the number of collisions between metal and marsupial. The company reckons there are "20,000 kangaroo strikes on Australian roads each year costing over AU $75 million in insurance claims". It already has the "City Safety" system, which …
That's official advice. I went to a zoo near Melbourne and the police had a stand doing the safety thing. Including a rather flat estate car that a big red had used as a crash mat. The occupants did not survive and should have fitted roo bars. Then there was some other critter that was like a hell's hedgehog. Big, solid, curled up in the road when it saw headlights and would flip cars if they hit it. And traction control vs a corner covered in cane toads. And I guess hitting a saltie croc at speed would be bad for one's no claims bonus. The land of natural hazards..
I think you'll generally find that the height of the average big red when stationary, let alone moving, will mean that a typical car-based bumper appendage like the one you mention will just tip-tackle the roo straight into your windscreen. The car simply does not have the height required. A similar setup on a 4wd would likely work due to the extra height of the top of the bar.
If it's Volvo's vision "that no one is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020", then the driver safety pack (with radar, assisted braking, and hazard warning HUD etc) wouldn't have been a £2K optional extra that I couldn't quite stretch to, it would be standard spec.
I suppose to be fair, the City Safety thing (and pedestrian airbag) are standard kit, although the City Safety feature only works below 30 mph.
"It might be hard to hit a kangaroo at less than 30 mph"
It's pretty easy actually.
We were 4x4ing on a firetrail (at about running pace) with a cliff on one side, and a mountain on the other.
A roo comes down the mountain, bumps us, and continues it merry way down what looked like a cliff.
There was no apparent damage done anywhere, but we were after all in her backyard.
That was in broad daylight, but the real problems come at night when they get "hypnotised" by the oncoming lights. They wait till last moment, then move in directly in front. When you hit it, you 'aint doin' 30mph at that point... Amazing how much damage even a smaller roo will do.
One hit us on the main freeway from Melbourne to Sydney at night when it was just a shadow which hopped into us on the driver's side (not the front) and still managed to cave in the driver's door so it couldn't be opened. It smeared down the side and bounced off the trailer wheel arch. If it was dazed, it was probably finished off by someone going the other way as we passed a car a few seconds later through the contraflow.
Apart from high roobars there really isn't anything you can do at speed to avoid these things. Maybe a bond-style screen (the bonnet?) which pops up when there is an impending impact to deflect it?
The most likely scenario: Guy driving Roo-dodging Volvo encounters a rogue roo. Said volvo immediately locks the brakes faster than the driver ever could. Unfortunately, the driver of the vehicle directly behind does not have any fancy collision avoidance system and goes plowing into the rear end of the Volvo. Two cars totaled and the roo hops of unscathed...
You've missed the notable feature of Outback driving... there is no car directly behind you, or in front of you, or anywhere else. Your Volvo is quite safe from being rear-ended by another car.
However, as soon as the Volvo brakes, a road-train (massive, double-articulated truck) will appear out of nowhere and convert your Volvo to a pancake, without the amphetamine-crazed driver ever noticing.
Northbourne Av is the main road in Canberra which continues into Federal Highway and if you persistent enough will take you to Sydney in few hours. Every morning there are at least 2 to 3 dead roos can be found on that street in the middle of the city, I don't even want to mention forest around Parliament Hill which is infested by these creatures.
Obviously ACT is the best place for anyone who wanst to see roos on the roads without going too far from 5* hotel.
It is called the bush capital with good reason. Lots of nature reserves = lots of roos all through the city. I can see a mob relaxing in the trees outside my office window right now. All the main roads (Parkway, Hindmarsh, Athlon, Monaro, William Hovell, etc etc) have multiple roo carcases along the verges. This really is the perfect place to test roo avoidance systems.
With the ..."City Safety" system, which scans the road ahead for animals and pedestrians using a radar sensor and hi-res camera, automatically hitting the brakes if necessary."...I wonder if throwing something of medium size across and in the path of one of these Volvos, would cause it to suddenly apply its brakes and come to a stop. Now wouldn't THAT be great sport!!
They are also fast and unpredictable, and while fatalities rarely result (generally if you lose control trying to avoid them, or they go through the windshield) they do a lot of damage. A little googling shows an estimate of around 200 deaths and $4 billion a year. They estimate 1 in 169 drivers will hit a deer in a given year. So far I've been lucky and haven't become a statistic but with those odds it is almost 50/50 I'll hit one sometime during my life.
Could never come close to eliminating all collisions since sometimes they're in dense woods or down in a ditch alongside the road and suddenly jump out - there would no way for IR or motion detection to see them until it is too late to avoid a collision, but even if the car slammed on the brakes and reduced the speed of impact it would help a lot. Might still be a handful of deaths, but that's better than 200.
If you never driven Australian rural roads here's a brief explanation how these oversized rabbits function.
They're usually active in the dusk and they're mostly grey so you can barely see them. At that time they tend to sit under some trees usually in darkest place right next to the road and waiting. For something. When they see headlights of approaching car their brain works like this - oh, there's something bright on the road, how about I go and check what it is and following that mental process they instantly jump onto the road right in front of your car, usually at a distance when emergency breaking is not anymore possible.
Considering these rabbits weight up to 100 kilos (200 pounds for our metric system disabled friends) and tend to fly right into windshield legs first on speed of 110 km/h it is as deadly as head on collision with a tree.
Close. For our metric-system-impaired (of the imperial ilk) friends, 100 kg would be 220.4585537918871 lbs (or 15.748031496062993 stone).
For regular El Reg readers:
100 kg = 23.8095 Jub
110km/h = 0.001 % of the maximum velocity of a sheep in a vacuum
I realise this is a serious risk. However, whenever a wombat is mentioned, my memory triggers this:
She: (dragging him onto the sofa) Oh forget him! What's your name, deary?
She: No, no! Your first name, silly!
She: Oh, Wombat. Wombat Harness! Take me to the place where eternity knows no bounds, where the garden of love encloses us round. Oh Harness!
Inspector: All right, I'll have a quick look at yer Thomas Hardy.
That's a big wombat mate!
I've always found them pretty easy to spot and avoid 'cause they don't move fast.
True story: I met a bloke who hit a wombat on the Stuart Highway at night. Almighty bang and the car is fishtailing all over because the passenger side front wheel no longer seems to be having any part of steering the car. Or holding it up off the road for that matter. He walks back down the road to see what he hits and finds a mound of bloody fur in the shape of a wombat about 200m back. It moves. He thinks "shit, the poor bastard's still alive" and walks back to the car to get something with which to put it out of its misery. On the way he takes in the skid and scrape marks and thinks to have a look at the damage: front passenger side suspension unit punched vertically through the top of the tower and the bonnet. Now he's angry and heads back to deal retribution with a tyre iron but the wombat is nowhere to be found. A trail leads off into the bush.
That's the point where we found him and gave him a lift to Catherine.
However, they will not flip a car or truck, physics just doesn't work like that outside of Hollywood, bu I'm sure people have rolled cars due a loss of control after hitting the bastards..
Volvo have already checked out wombats.
In the late 70s a friend was driving at night on the Tidbinbilla Rd in a Volvo 200 series. She hit a wombat at about 30mph (not the wombat) and the engine dropped out of the car.
The local dealer had some trouble explaining how that can happen to the Swedish makers...
Several commentators have mentioned some of the issues here:
- The most critical time is at dusk when your own driving vision is close to it's worst
- some people believe that they hop into the road because headlights give them an illuminated path
- Red kangaroos - the biggest? - weigh in at close to 100kg ~ 200lb
- many can hop at over 25kph ~14mph and for short distances at 70kph ~ 45mph
- they can hop sideways as part of their path
- they seem to appear out of nowhere, so good luck with detecting something off to the side and deciding that it will hop in front of the car.
Oh and yes, Wombats can also be a problem despite their stature - in a previous life I drove small buses and hit a wombat one evening. The bus was un-driveable - buggered the steering and the wombat didn't make it either. Mostly however, wombats are significantly less common that roos.
This system might work if a Roo hops into the driver's "thinking distance" but simply cannot work if the intrusion is into the "braking distance". OK; it's an improvement, but it certainly isn't going to stop every mishap because however hard the brakes are applied the vehicle will travel some distance before coming to a halt. That distance will depend on a number of factors, one of which is surface water (rain!) which might not be too great a problem in Oz.
I suspect that any such development will fool drivers into believing that any such automatic system will eliminate such accidents completely, when in fact it can do no more than reduce the number.
I hope their system takes into account the road surface. Slamming on the brakes on a dirt road will just result in a quick visit to the nearest gum tree.
I was in a repair shop after hitting a roo, chatting with another customer. His vehicle had been damaged when a roo jumped on top of it from a cutting.
As others have noted they tend to lurk on the verge (the grass is greener there) and can be panicked into crossing the road when a collision is almost inevitable. Any automated system would have the car crawling along a 30KPH. As Allan George Dyer above noted this will get you flattened by a truck.
If you hit a roo and it survives, what's it gonna do ?
In the UK we have badgers, whilst not as big as a roo (15kg ave) they are built like a brick a privvy.
Mate of mine hit one with his Subaru Impreza (he was going quite fast), the front of his car was totalled, looked like he had hit a furry telegraph pole.
On investigating the badger lying in the road it turned out it wasn't dead, just a little stunned and very angry, my mate had to beat a hasty retreat and sit in the ruined car until he was sure it had gone.
They are not endangered species so you usually check for a joey in the poach and if it survived take it to nearest vet. It's even more important with wombats as joeys are usually well protected by mother's bone structure and survive very well just to slowly die of starvation.
I'm curious as to how this detection actually work?
Would a vehicle radar be any good at actually detecting a jumpy organic sack of muscle covered in fur?
And if the radar can't pick it up wouldn't the camera be restricted to pretty much the same distance the human can see? I doubt they've fitted a night vision camera.
The tricky bit with roos and detecting them during driving is they're most active at dusk where everything is grey-on-grey. Occasionally you get the reflected light from their eyes as a warning.
thermal imaging combined with computer image recognition (analogous to synthetic aperture radar) should do the job easily enough. Existing military technology. The problem would be less the recognition of the animals, and more the transfer of data to the car control systems. Things like road condition, weather, bends all have to go into the mix and to be safe you'd need to be sure of a reliable GPS signal at all times - you wouldn't want GPS to drop out as the steering or brakes are applied
Volvo needs to fix their self-destructing, "That'll be £5,500 please" gearboxes before worrying about not killing Skippy! Volvo's Epicfail answer is "TADTS" which is far from good enough!
This burned us so badly on a 2010 V50 a temporary fix was done and we dumped the car.
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