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In Australia, Volvo is developing technology to avoid an adorable road hazard: kangaroos.
While they might seem exotic in the United States, kangaroos can be a nuisance Down Under. Around 20,000 of them are involved in car accidents each year, Volvo said, citing statistics from Australia's National Roads & Motorists’ Association.
Volvo is using camera and radar technology to create a system that can detect kangaroos and automatically apply the brakes to avoid hitting them. Researchers for the company are capturing film of kangaroos near the roadside at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, located near the country's capital, Canberra, for analysis.
Detection and avoidance technology already exists for other animals such as deer, moose and cows. But kangaroos pose a unique problem.
"Kangaroos are smaller than these animals and their behaviour is more erratic," Martin Magnusson, senior safety engineer at Volvo Cars, said in a statement.
"This is why it’s important that we test and calibrate our technology on real kangaroos in their natural environment."
Collision avoidance technology is becoming increasingly common in automobiles. On Monday, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it would make automatic braking part of its five-star rating system starting 2018, a move that could encourage more automakers to add the feature to their cars.