back to article Blunder down under: self-driving Aussie cars still being thwarted by kangaroos

Kangaroos continue to the bane of self-driving cars in Australia, as automakers say they still can't figure out how to accurately detect the presence of the pouched marsupials. Swedish car builder Volvo told the ABC that the large animal detection software it uses for its auto-pilot system is unable to accurately gauge the …

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Obvious solution

Self-driving Kangaroos.

Replace the unpredictable dangerous marsupials with predictable reliable robot versions

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Coat

Re: Obvious solution

Or use the same technique the developers of the VFT used back in the 90s (VFT = Very Fast Train, knowing Australia, it has probably been replaced by the FFT by now :-D ).

At a press conference, a green reporter asked what they do, if they hit a kangaroo. The manager replied, "we turn on the windscreen wipers." Not the sort of politically correct, sanitized answer you would expect today..

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Re: Obvious solution

This is the era of IoT. Obviously all that is necessary is to implant all kangaroos with bluetooth so that they can be tracked.

What's that you say, Skippy? They're wild? Well since when has reality trampled on IoT's promise?

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Terminator

Re: Obvious solution

@Yet Another Anon Coward

'roo-bots?

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Re: Obvious solution

re: trains hitting a roo...

The train might power on thru it, but hitting one in a car is a very different story... a big male roo can weigh 100kg, and that's enough to make it more serious than turning on the wipers (even more so if they're moving at 30mph at the time).

Wikipedia says "small vehicles may be destroyed, larger vehicles may suffer engine damage".

There used to be stories of roos travelling at high speed "crossing the road" and happening to land on top of a car and caving in the roof. A modern car roof should be able to withstand that I'd guess, but I'm guessing a collision with the windscreen would still be serious enough.

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Re: Obvious solution

@schmerg

"There used to be stories of roos travelling at high speed "crossing the road" and happening to land on top of a car and caving in the roof. A modern car roof should be able to withstand that I'd guess, but I'm guessing a collision with the windscreen would still be serious enough."

You just don't want to be driving a convertible! Especially true with the top down.

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Re: Obvious solution

@usbac

Back when I lived there, convertibles were pretty rare - I drove a Mini Moke for a while and during the summer you'd have the roof up for any journey of more than 10 or 20 minutes or you'd be burnt to a crisp.

Convertibles are much more popular in the UK (i.e. in my limited experience, convertibles are more popular and commonplace in climates where sunshine is relatively rare but winters not harsh enough to make them completely impractical).

But yeah, roo leaping on top of a moke is not really something I want to experience first hand (coming back to my car to find some jokers had picked it up and turned it sideways in the car parking bay was bad enough)

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Re: Obvious solution

First you have to catch all 100 million of them. Good luck with that. We've been turning them into dog food for 200 years and haven't made the slightest dent in the population. Quite the opposite in fact. They've been making all the dents.

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Re: Obvious solution

The real problem with hitting a roo isn't the damage the impact does to your car - though that can be substantial - it's what else you hit afterwards. People take wild evasive action and hit something, such as a tree or another car. The impact of a roo is substantial. It can do a lot of damage, including damage that in some cases makes it difficult or impossible to control the car well enough to bring it to a safe stop.

I regularly drive through a particular section of road arund dusk. This is the worst possible time for roo stikes. I don't worry too much about hitting a roo myself - I slow down to 80k or less and keep a very sharp lookout - I worry about the moron coming the other way at 120 who suddenly sees a roo (or just feels the impact on an unseen one) and unexpectedly arrives on my side of the road, out of control. It hasn't happened yet 'coz I'm here to talk about it, but honestly, some people have got no bloody idea.

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Anonymous Coward

Introduce a predator which will eat the kangaroos.

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We did introduce predators. They are called trucks.

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"We did introduce predators. They are called trucks."

Those are bullshit at the job.

What you need is a few ships of Cantonese people. In a few years they will move all your overflowing wildlife forms into the Near- Exctnict catagory.

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Wrong Predators

The predators that were introduced into Australia are called The British.

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Re: Wrong Predators

Who introduced them?

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Trollface

Re: Wrong Predators

Who introduced them?

Nobody, they were totally the first humans to discover it

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wrong Predators

"Nobody, they were totally the first humans to discover it"

The first humans in Australia were the Aborigines.

The first Europeans to discover it were Dutch circa 1602-6. The British expedition of Captain Cook wasn't until 1770.

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Joke

Re: Wrong Predators

[Aus not terra nullis]

thanks for that, you learn something new every day.

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Happy

Re: Wrong Predators

"The first humans in Australia were the Aborigines."

Wooossshhh. They goes the joke wizzing over your head.

You must a from the USofA, sarcasm is never your strong point.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wrong Predators

Oh Australia, I thought we were talking about Austria. I always get those two mixed up.

-Yank

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So, if it looks further away when in the air, does that mean the software also thinks it is bigger? It seems to be assuming that whatever it is detecting is on the ground, so being in midair puts it 'further away' in the image?

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Happy

"So, if it looks further away when in the air..."

"Well, Dougal, it's like this- "

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Self driving car software will have trouble with all manner of animals not seen in the USA.

Malaysia has elephants stepping out of the jungle in front of you and monkeys with no road sense at all. Monkeys are likely to be detected as a child

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Holmes

I've had it on good authority that some development is going on in India and that women in saris are a real problem for existing tech. I think there will be plenty of unintended consequences when it comes to recognition - something that evolution has had millenia to perfect.

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Anonymous Coward

Elephants rarely jump into the air, to be fair.

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Anonymous Coward

Sweden has many road accidents with Elk (Moose) ambling across a road - often crossing between two heavily wooded sections that keep them hidden until the last moment. The car usually comes off worst.

Once saw one wandering across a field towards a lake. It was interesting to see the immediate traffic jam as people saw it approaching with the obvious intention of crossing the road. That would be an interesting prescient test for a self-driving car.

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Anonymous Coward

"I think there will be plenty of unintended consequences when it comes to recognition - something that evolution has had millenia to perfect."

Many years ago working in Africa I had a near miss one night. A local stepped in front of the car without any apparent regard for my speed.

There were apparently two factors. One was the darkness and the lack of reflectivity from his skin and dark clothes - so I had no warning until he was in the headlight beam. The other was apparently that judging an approaching vehicle's speed is a learned skill. If you didn't live in a town that skill wasn't honed to handle cars on good roads.

Somewhere in the Far East it is said pedestrians crossing the street just walk into the multi-stream traffic at a steady rate. It is expected that the drivers will avoid them.

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"Somewhere in the Far East it is said pedestrians crossing the street just walk into the multi-stream traffic at a steady rate. It is expected that the drivers will avoid them."

That would be, for example, Vietnam. It is not said that this occurs. It does. I've done it, it's more or less the only way to cross the road. The motorcycles and bicycles move around you like fluid round a cylinder.

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Anonymous Coward

The motorcycles and bicycles move around you like fluid round a cylinder.

Until one day they don't.

Vietnam's road fatalities per capita are about 10x those of the UK or Sweden.

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Anonymous Coward

In Vietnam all the rules of the roads are different - the smaller vehicles will move around you, the bigger ones will plough through you, hence the higher road deaths.

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Moose bites can be pretty nasty.

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They do when scared by

Mice!

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Well, children also have no road sense at all, so that is par for the course.

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Same thing in most of the Middle East. Foreigners hail a taxi to cross a road.

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Re: Elephants rarely jump into the air

But when they do...

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You'd think that a Volvo could learn how to deal with Elk, but then again Volvo hasn't been Swedish for almost two decades now.

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bep

Roos

I think roos will stay a problem. On a lot of roads a mob will be grazing on the side of the road and as your car approaches they will bound across the road giving you very little time to react. They will also hop alongside your car and it they manage to get in front they'll suddenly jump in front of your car. It's said that they get mesmerised by the headlights and the only solution is to turn the lights off - not ideal on a dark outback road. Bear in mind there may be a lot of them, not just a single roo. This is quite a problem for artificial intelligence to deal with.

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Re: Roos

Sounds exactly like standard deer behavior in the US, so the same detection issues will apply.

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Re: Roos

Not just that, but the shade of their coats give them great camouflage amongst the scrub the the side of the road, and even light mist can obscure them fairly well.

I don't even qualify as being in the "outback" (hour and a bit north of Sydney), and I have at least 2 near-misses per week,

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Re: Roos

"Sounds exactly like standard deer behavior in the US, so the same detection issues will apply."

I don't understand the downvote. I was thinking the same thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Roos

I think roos will stay a problem

Yup. They may even decide to fire back (grumbling at snopes for sort of debunking that one, spoilsports).

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Re: Roos

Deer in, he UK are equally as dumb, I hit one in the forest near Colgate, it moved the bonnet and wing on my old Escort back about 4 or 5 inches, broke the rad mounting a basically wrote the car off. I moved it out of the road and reckon it weighed around 50 kilos. When I got to the job I was on, my mate reminded me he was an ex- butcher,,, Doh!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Roos

""Sounds exactly like standard deer behavior in the US [...]"

Is there any road crossing/basking problem with alligators in the USA?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Roos

"Deer in, he UK are equally as dumb, [...]"

On a touring holiday in Skye my pal said it was nice to drive on the winding roads at night as you saw the headlights of approaching cars well in time.

The black Highland cow had its back to us - so my pal had to brake hard and finally just drifted slowly into the cow's rear. The cow turned its head - then trotted off

Its backside contour had fitted neatly into the car's radiator/bumper profile so distributing the impact to do it no apparent harm. My pal's new Mazda rotary had its bonnet pushed back by about 6mm - an expensive repair.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Roos

"When I got to the job I was on, my mate reminded me he was an ex- butcher,,,"

Many years ago an acquaintance had a venerable Volvo estate. She lived in a country village accessed by narrow twisting lanes. It was not uncommon for a pheasant to appear in front of her - and a quick press on the accelerator stocked the freezer.

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Re: Roos

Perhaps because deer don't hop?

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Re: Roos

"Perhaps because deer don't hop?"

They may not be the equal of kangaroos, but roe deer have a bounding gate that sees them in the air as often as they're on the ground.

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Re: Roos

All deer and antelope bound at great speed and will run along a road, then turn right in front you. So, the main problem is that there is no wild animals in Sweden to experiment on.

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Re: Roos

@Re: Roos

Just as well it was not a highland bull as I think the reshaping of the bonnet to include spaces for a bull's 'sweetmeats' would have caused an eruption rather than an 'amble away'.

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Re: Roos

@Chris G

...I hit one in the forest near Colgate...
I bet all involved came away with clean teeth tho.

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Boffin

Australia, where everything alive is trying to kill you...

Or at least screw over your good driver discount.

Actually, the solution is simple, just slap a harness with radar-reflecting plates on every 'roo and wallaby. Problem solved!! Oz, please send my check (Aus $ accepted!) to:

M. (As in marsupial) Hack

Anytown, USA

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