There are more deaths per year in Australia caused by Kangaroos than by Crocodiles, Box jellyfish and Sharks combined. Scandinavian auto maker Volvo, is leading the way in reducing these incidents, by developing special technology to assist drivers in outback Australia, in conjunction with Australian road safety agencies.
Drivers who frequent the bush are often on the lookout for extra safety features when buying their next car. A popular item and practice is to fit an after-market bull bar to front bumpers. Bull bars are specifically designed for the purpose of protecting a car from major damage, in the event of colliding with wildlife at high speeds.
Bull bars can prevent total write offs of a vehicle, but add additional weight, which affect performance, fuel economy and are not always completely effective. A high speed crash with a Kangaroo, will likely do more than ruin the shiny high gloss paint job of your precious car.
Volvo has long been associated with very high safety features and attributes. Volvo features have been designed to protect drivers and passengers for incidents with Deer and Moose. Despite the difference in temperature and climate, it’s a natural fit for Volvo to venture down under, with many Volvo drivers in Australia. The cost of the 20,000 or so incidents per year on Australian roads involving the famous furry Marsupial is an incredible $55 million USD, in insurance claims. This is not including the cost of all physical injuries and personal trauma to all concerned.
The average Kangaroo weighs a staggering 150kg, can reach speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour and jump up to 8m in a single leap. Combine that with a car driving at 100 kilometers per hour and it’s hard to imagine the extreme damage that can be caused. Not a pretty sight.
Many of the Kangaroos involved in accidents are killed, or badly injured, leaving them unable to survive. Pain and suffering to Australian drivers and passengers is also on the increase as more people seek to live outside of urban areas. As cars and nature interact more with each other, Volvo is doing more to avoid loss of life – whether it be an animal or human.
Volvo has embarked on a extending its City Safety research to include the outback, as it is virtually impossible for humans to react to a Kangaroos’ speed and agility. Cameras and radar are being trained to detect Kangaroos as they are already used to seeing cars, cyclists, pedestrians and small animals. Most of these types of system are already standard on the latest models, but this is new for the outback market.
This new Volvo system is able to prime the brakes in milliseconds, and prepare the car for a quick stop. If the driver fails to respond to the danger, the car will warn the driver and brake hard to avoid the collision. Incredibly, total reaction time for Kangaroo detection drops from 1.2 seconds (human) to 0.05 seconds (Volvo).
Whilst the market for Kangaroo avoidance technology is a small one, much of this is attributed to the desire of Volvo to have the world’s safest car.
Volvo are determined to avoid all serious injuries or loss of life in any new Volvo car by 2020, CEO Hakan Samuelsson has also been quoted as saying.