It was the most Australian of predicaments. Back in 2017, car manufacturer Volvo brought two models to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in Canberra to test how its animal detection system fared against kangaroos.
Volvo’s self-driving vehicles could identify and avoid large animals such as deer and elk, but the tests carried out in Australia showed they couldn’t easily detect kangaroos because of their ability to change direction suddenly and unpredictably.
Volvo Australia’s technical manager David Pickett told the ABC at the time that the marsupial’s unusual movements confounded the vehicle’s ability to think for itself.
“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,” he said1.
Pickett explained that the detection issue wouldn’t delay Volvo’s rollout of driverless cars in Australia, but it was essential the problem be resolved before they were introduced.