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 …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Obvious solution

    Self-driving Kangaroos.

    Replace the unpredictable dangerous marsupials with predictable reliable robot versions

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technique the developers of the VFT used back in the 90s (VFT = Very Fast Train, knowing Australia, it has probably been replaced by the FFT by now :-D ).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

      1. schmerg

        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.

        1. usbac

          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.

          1. schmerg

            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)

          2. Tannin

            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.

    2. Tinslave_the_Barelegged

      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?

    3. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Obvious solution

      @Yet Another Anon Coward

      'roo-bots?

    4. Deevo

      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.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Introduce a predator which will eat the kangaroos.

    1. Truckle The Uncivil

      We did introduce predators. They are called trucks.

      1. Field Commander A9

        "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.

      2. The Count

        Wrong Predators

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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wrong Predators

          Who introduced them?

          1. 's water music Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Wrong Predators

            Who introduced them?

            Nobody, they were totally the first humans to discover it

            1. Anonymous Coward
              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.

              1. 's water music Silver badge
                Joke

                Re: Wrong Predators

                [Aus not terra nullis]

                thanks for that, you learn something new every day.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                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.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Wrong Predators

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

                  -Yank

  3. Myvekk

    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?

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

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

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

  4. David Pearce

    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

    1. Brenda McViking
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          "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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              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.

          2. herman Silver badge

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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Elephants rarely jump into the air, to be fair.

      1. TDog

        They do when scared by

        Mice!

      2. Chemical Bob

        Re: Elephants rarely jump into the air

        But when they do...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Jonathan G

        Moose bites can be pretty nasty.

      2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        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.

    4. herman Silver badge

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

  5. 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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Roos

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

      1. W4YBO

        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.

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          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!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

            1. Truckle The Uncivil

              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'.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            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.

          3. eldakka Silver badge

            Re: Roos

            @Chris G

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

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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?

        3. keith_w

          Re: Roos

          Perhaps because deer don't hop?

          1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

            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.

        4. herman Silver badge

          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.

    2. MrDamage

      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,

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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).

  6. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    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

  7. hekla
    Holmes

    What about wombats

    Wombat are much more dangerous than kangaroos and they win in a truck vs wombat encounter.

    For the non-Oz, consider it as a rock on legs, it is about the height of the bumper, also nocturnal.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: What about wombats

      Not to mention the drop bears ,,,,,

      1. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: What about wombats

        > Not to mention the drop bears

        Well short of fitting a couple of nukes to the roof*, I'm not sure there is a solution to the drop bear attack.

        *Even that is probably just going to piss them off. Best just to succumb to your fate and pray it happens quickly.

      2. nullacritter

        Re: What about wombats

        Drop bears - if you see one it is already too late.

    2. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: What about wombats

      Really? They're that stout? Wow.

      I hit a badger last night, the largest common non-deer in the UK, and it died instantly, with no damage to the van.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about wombats

        I hit a badger last night

        I am, for once, going to skip over the innuendo that that deserves (no doubt someone else will pick that up :) ) and observe that cats are also pretty damaging at 70mph/120km/h.

        1. Throatwobbler Mangrove

          Re: What about wombats

          "cats are also pretty damaging at 70mph/120km/h."

          tbh I don't think they should be allowed behind the wheel at all.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What about wombats

            ""cats are also pretty damaging at 70mph/120km/h."

            Dark suburban road. Black cat suddenly appeared in my LandRover headlights. Now with the ground clearance and wide wheel track the chances of hitting it were very small. It decided to stop still facing the car - right in the path of a wheel.

        2. breakfast

          Re: What about wombats

          To be fair, cats seldom travel that fast.

          At least if you hit a badger your hubcaps can double as a shaving brush for a while.

        3. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. hekla

        Re: What about wombats

        A grown wombat weighs in at about 4 badgers and some are larger

  8. Black Rat
    Coat

    Ah I see the problem...

    https://youtu.be/7_HAFsPooR4

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge
  9. Sanctimonious Prick
    Boffin

    Idiots!

    Who educated those people from Volvo, eh?

    The answer is simple! Friggit!

    Just go into a lab, create a virus that has a unique signature that can be picked up using a simple technique called ****, inject/infect all roos and wallabies, and, hey, presto, what could possibly go wrong?

    1. Chemical Bob

      Re: Idiots!

      Mutant ninja roos (and wallabies).

  10. Diogenes Silver badge

    Roos, and emus as dumb as politicians

    Roo stands perfectly still until you are level, then jumps as your nose passes and ends up trying to come in through the rear door. Don't ask how I know this .

    Emus are as stupid as roos, and exhibit the same behaviours as bep describes above.

    I have also almost collected an eagle the size of a large child, feasting on roo carcass courtesy of an earlier truck, decides to take off before I get to him and has not compensated for the n many kilos heavier it is . Its talons left a small chip just above the windshield.

  11. CentralCoasty
    Facepalm

    Just wondering how they detect large birds and what they do when they take off/land? Wouldnt that be similar? (especially in flocks)

    You would kind of think that the default logic would be that if a moving object was detected (or stationary) that it couldnt recognise it would reduce speed & engage avoidance by default.... (That tends to be my behaviour when I see an unknown moving shape on the edge of the highlights at night)... Ok it would mean the cars grinding to a halt more often at first, but as they improve the AI they could manage the situation better.....

    Biggest fright I ever had was getting "ambushed" by a troop late at night driving along a remote road....

    .... final step will be to get the AI to be able to run away from enraged Roo's/Elephant/Bison etc which may take offence at your vehicle.....

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Pint

      Logic? It can be difficult for humans as well.

      My dad was involved in repairing a small camper van from a pair of stoners once. It turns out that whilst driving down the Highway between Sydney and Melbourne, they thought the best way to account for the boredom was to take some LSD. (For the record I wouldnt recommend this, whilst driving).

      Driving along, one of them goes "Woah, dude this sh%t just kicked in! It looks like there's a fridge standing in the middle of the road." The other guy, also staring out the front, said "Dude, I can see it. Wow this is good shit!", and then the pair drove into an actual fridge that had fallen off the back of a previous truck and was standing in the middle of the road.

      I imagine attempting to explain why you hit a fridge lying in the middle of the road, to the Police, whilst on LSD, was a difficult conversation.

      However, to get back to the topic of logic, the humans in this case certainly had a few failures occur before the accident - 1) Taking LSD whilst driving, 2) seeing something in the road, EVEN if you think it was a hallucination, and not choosing to drive around it... So considering that humans have had millenia to develop logic, should we really expect AI to be able to grasp it perfectly so soon?

      1. Chemical Bob
        Devil

        Re: Logic? It can be difficult for humans as well.

        "So considering that humans have had millenia to develop logic, should we really expect AI to be able to grasp it perfectly so soon?"

        Depends entirely on the kind of drugs Stoner AI would do...

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "You would kind of think that the default logic would be that if a moving object was detected (or stationary) that it couldnt recognise it would reduce speed & engage avoidance by default...."

      The problem comes when they don't recognize it until they're INSIDE the minimum (physical) stopping distance. Now you're in Trolley Problem territory.

  12. chuckm
    Go

    No surprises here

    No-one and nothing can deal with kangas very well. In fact they owe me a ute,

    They are about the most rock-bottom stupid critters out there, practically guaranteed to jump towards a vehicle rather than away given a choice.

    For non-australians:

    a ute or 'utlility' is more or less what the septics would call a pick-up

    a septic is a septic tank, or Yank

    1. caffeine addict Silver badge

      Re: No surprises here

      Ah septics - probably the only term the septics hate more than being called merkins. :)

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Septic 'merkins...

      ... would be a good name for a punk band.

      1. Chemical Bob

        Re: Septic 'merkins...

        ...is a very nasty mental picture.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only

    As one of the 20,000 good luck with that. They wait till you are level then leap into you.

    Simple solution,

    Is it dusk / dawn - check

    Have you spotted multiple dead roos on, or by the side of the road - check

    Stop.

  14. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Not surprised

    Many North America animals apparently push roos in the stupidity department. Deer are notorious for jumping out in front of a car and not giving a driver any time to react. It looks like all the software is a mid to late alpha stage.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not surprised

      I've never t-boned one, but I did have one bounce off the side of my car last spring, after it failed to beat me to the spot with the big X.

      Yes, deer are exceedingly dim. It doesn't take much brain to sneak up on a leaf.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Not surprised

        "It doesn't take much brain to sneak up on a leaf."

        Are deer a distant cousin of Puppeteers?

    2. Dazed and Confused
      Happy

      Re: Not surprised

      Many North America animals apparently push roos in the stupidity department.

      You don't even need to go for wild animals.

      Cat's have no road sense either. They are genetically programmed to assume that they are more important than you are and that you only exist to feed them, so naturally assume that when they want to cross the road you'll just stop. Secondly they are genetically programmed to assume that they are faster than you, so the thought of "I'm not going to make it" never occurs to them either. They just rush on.

      I've also got a theory that sheep can't see anything travelling at more than 40MPH. Presumably there is no natural predator for them which moves anything like that speed so why bother to develop sense to cope.

      1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

        Re: Not surprised

        Gibsons Theorem states:

        Sheep live a very boring existence. To relieve this tedium the species has developed a game to play, it involves dying in the most interesting and unexpected ways. An apparently healthy sheep that turns up dead one morning (they do this a lot) does not score well. A sheep that catches a string of diseases that are difficult to diagnose, expensive to treat but not so expensive to result in a bolt to the back of the head before spontaneously expiring when apparently healthy scores highly. It will be fondly remembered by it's peers. A sheep that simply gets run over gets points for annoying both the farmer and the car owner but still will get 'must try harder' on its report card.

        A record high score was achieved by the highly valuable ram that went missing from the farm of Mr Gibson, author of this theorem. Fences were checked, searches made repeatedly, neighbours asked and eventually the police were informed. The mystery was solved a few weeks later when something of an aroma emanated from the 9" gap between two buildings. Given that the horns on the thing were wider than 9" never mind the belly that place had not been searched. The cost involved in taking the wall out of a building and reconstructing it eclipsed the capital loss of the animal and it's life tally of vet bills and secured the ram a record score in the game of Interesting Death.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not surprised

        "Cats [...] They just rush on."

        Or just stop and face off the intruder.

    3. caffeine addict Silver badge

      Re: Not surprised

      One of my exciting motoring moments (read "times i nearly cr*pped myself) was hitting a muntjac deer.

      They're about the size of a dog and as solid as you'd expect a deer to be. The end result is a bit like hitting a badger on stilts. Doing the legal speed limit, honestly officer, of 70mph on a dual carriageway at 1am and the little bugger came out of nowhere. Almighty bang followed by the front and back ends arguing about who wanted to have less control as deer puree stole all their grip.

      It's something I'll never forget - especially in the middle of the night after eating a lot of cheese...

  15. Paul 129
    Alert

    Walabys

    We have problems with their smaller cousins. These stand about a meter tall wikipedia says they can travel at about 30mph which sounds close. They can jump out of the bushes and be in front of your car in less than a second. Bounding away then 180 degree jump back in front of you. And in plague numbers. You have to get a special permit to hunt them, and have a gun license also (heavily restricted).

    After dark, drive with high beams as much as possible and be more wary of the edges of the road than oncoming traffic.

    Hitting one will smash the plastic bumper on you car and likely will do more damage. Having said that I have seen a 60foot trailer thrown about 50cm in the air after putting a wheel over a wombat.

    Scary!

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Walabys

      Wombats, yes the first time I activated ABS two decades ago was one of those buggers. It simultaneously felt like the strongest braking force* I had experienced in a car and time went very slow, the wombat disappeared under the field of view as the car stopped. They are both properly fast and solid as a rock. If you make contact, you aren't driving away.

      *my prior car had drum brakes on the rear. Very glad that I wasn't trying to stop in that.

  16. Tommyinoz

    Cane toads

    Can the software detect cane toads and automatically steer the car all over the road flattening the little bastards? This would be a popular feature with Queensland drivers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cane toads

      Swerving around the road on slippery toads is not recommended.

      I believe this is a job for lasers.

      1. Private Citizen.AU
        Holmes

        Re: Cane toads

        All we need! cane toads with fricken laser beams.

        oh I see what you mean.

        Roos are unique as they have a tendency to hit you side on rather than head on. Something about flying through the air at speed makes them feel invulnerable. 80kgs at 50kph does quiet some damage. An auto car driving at speed into a mob of roos in full flight is a scary thought indeed.

        I would think that emus would cause hassles as well - the only remedy I have ever found is a meat pie lobbed in the opposite direction of where you want to travel. Can an auto driven car safely launch fresh baked decoys?

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Cane toads

          Pie launcher! Oh Yeah!!

      2. CentralCoasty

        Re: Cane toads

        My eldest got banned from the casino on the Gold Coast because of these little b*ggers....

        ... he and his mate (being big soccer fans) decided to practice their skills.... the goal posts were the big glass window in front of the dinning room.....

      3. Chemical Bob

        Re: Cane toads

        "I believe this is a job for lasers."

        Why would you want lasers to swerve around the road on slippery toads?

    2. Oengus
      Joke

      Re: Cane toads

      Actually, can we make that a mandatory feature... Cane toads are the most obnoxious pest known to man...

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Cane toads

        "Cane toads are the most obnoxious pest known to man..."

        Really? I thought that was Theresa May.

        1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Cane toads

          "Really? I thought that was Theresa May."

          Nah, mate. You can keep her. We don't want her here in Australia. She just won't survive an hour in Cabramatta.

  17. Winkypop Silver badge

    A fuckin' great big Bull Bar

    Who stops or slows?

  18. Mike 112

    I was driving down a highway at 100km/h at night and saw one running parallel to me then decide to jump into me. It hit every panel down the side. I wonder how the software could predict a sudden change in behaviour when the kangaroo changes direction.

    1. Putters

      I'd expect the software to react at least as well as you did. Ie letting the vehicle it's travelling in be side swiped.

      If the software was really bright, it might even slow up a bit and let the dumb beast head off into the night. But then it would be doing better than either of us :0)

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        If the software was really bright, it might even slow up a bit and let the dumb beast head off into the night

        It will simply adjust its speed to match yours; how can it hit you from the side otherwise?

        Once in northern Norway I had four reindeer standing in the road ahead of me. As I slowed to walking pace they started to move *keeping to the road* (well, two were on the road itself[0], the other two just off the road, one left, one right. Based on my experience with goats I expected them to get startled, the one on the left crossing over to the right, the one on the right simultaneously wanting to be on the left, and all four of them colliding in a pile ahead of me in a tangle of legs and antlers. They actually didn't, gradually increasing their speed, with me trailing them at a prudent distance. Finally they figured they had something better to do than try to outrun a motorcycle, and turned hard left down a shallow slope towards a small stream.

        [0] reindeer running on pavement make a curious 'flof-flof' sound

        1. CentralCoasty
          Pint

          Cows are dumb

          Many years ago in Ireland I met the obligatory herd of cows coming down the single track road.

          "No Worries" I thought and moved over as far as possible - which was about a foot from the stone wall (foundations of which were too high above road level for me to get any closer)......

          Naturally the herd flowed around the side of the car..... except the really, really clever one that decided it was only 1 foot wide and would squeeze through beside the car and wall.

          A beer because I really needed one after that......

  19. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Pheasants. A lot better at gaining airspeed than gaining height.

    1. Putters

      And big enough to take out the grill and the radiator behind on impact.

      Though there's something quite amusing watching a creature try to run in three directions at the same time whilst simultaneously trying to get airborne ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "And big enough to take out the grill and the radiator behind on impact."

        My country living acquaintance had a freezer regularly stocked with pheasants - courtesy of her venerable Volvo estate and her unhesitating foot hard down on the accelerator.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Pheasants.

      My one ever roadkill[0] on a motorcycle in some 400Mm, and even that one was second-hand.

      It swooped across the road, got hit by an oncoming van first with a glancing blow which resulted in some rather cartoonesque saltos that landed him right ahead of my front wheel, probably dead already.

      [0] Not counting the 23.7 trillion midges that ended up on every bit of frontal area after a summer night's ride across the Markermeerdijk. You don't want to close your visor because it'll be totally plastered over in green goo in mere seconds, and you don't want to open it either.

    3. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      And pigeons

      Long ago I was driving an under-powered truck up an on ramp. There was a pigeon in the middle of this ramp eating something. I couldn't practically let up on the gas and still merge into traffic, so I kept on, expecting the pigeon to fly away. It did, into the right outside mirror. One of the next stops was to have that mirror replaced.

  20. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Identification problem?

    when it's in the air it actually looks like it's further away, then it lands and it looks closer

    Are you sure Volvo aren't confusing kangaroos and boomerangs? The latter do have that sort of behaviour.

    1. 's water music Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Identification problem?

      >when it's in the air it actually looks like it's further away, then it lands and it looks closer

      Are you sure Volvo aren't confusing kangaroos and boomerangs? The latter do have that sort of behaviour.

      ...So I was wondering my the boomerang kept getting bigger and bigger...

      ...

      ...and then it hit me.

      I'm in the A&E queue all week folks.

  21. Tim Jenkins

    One for the Tesla programmers

    From: THIRD WORLD DRIVING HINTS AND TIPS By P. J. O’Rourke

    "Drive like hell through the goats. It’s impossible to hit a goat. On the other hand, it’s almost impossible not to hit a cow. Cows are immune to horn-honking, shouting, swats with sticks and taps on the hind quarters with the bumper. The only thing you can do to make a cow move is swerve to avoid it, which will make the cow move in front of you with lightning speed.

    Actually, the most dangerous animals are the chickens. In the United States, when you see a ball roll into the street, you hit your brakes because you know the next thing you’ll see is a kid chasing it. In the Third World, it’s not balls the kids are chasing, but chickens. Are they practising punt returns with a leghorn? Dribbling it? Playing stick-hen? I don’t know. But Third Worlders are remarkably fond of their chickens and, also, their children (population problems notwithstanding). If you hit one or both, they may survive. But you will not."

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: One for the Tesla programmers

      The "Ball" problem is something that has been a problem for a long time. I covered the DARPA Grand and Urban driving challenges as a journalist and had the opportunity to talk with nearly all of the teams. A ball rolling out on the road could indicate that a child might dart out from between cars and also if you were to see a dog run across the road trailing a leash, it might be expected that a person could be close behind trying to catch up to their pet. This is the sort of scenario that kept them up nights. Birds are a problem as well. Some birds will roost in shrubs next to a road and attempt suicide by all flying out at once. Often times sensors will see the flock as one large object. If sensing resolution is fine enough to identify the individual birds flying close to each other, it can be too much data for a computer to handle. One year when I was covering the Balls rocket launch at Black Rock (same place that The Burning Man is held). I had to pick several small birds out of the grill of the RV that I had rented. The first couple of times birds flew out it scarred me and after a while I just plowed through without slowing down.

  22. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

    Works for deer. Perhaps for kangaroos as well?

    Re: the comparison between the roo (highway) problem in Oz and the deer problem in US. These and similar devices work reasonably well at warning deer of your approaching vehicle. Ad copy says it will work for roos as well but, of course, YRMV

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Works for deer. Perhaps for kangaroos as well?

      Lol anybody else having flashbacks to 2009 with Jebidiah Greenfield and his Possum Whistle?

      https://youtu.be/eSBsGD9GB5Q

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Works for deer. Perhaps for kangaroos as well?

        Lol anybody else having flashbacks to 2009 with Jebidiah Greenfield and his Possum Whistle?

        Oh .. my .. God ..

        That's going to keep me busy for a while :).

  23. Dave 32
    Pint

    Frozen Chicken

    I'm surprised that no one has mentioned hitting a frozen chicken. Oh, wait, wrong kind of vehicle. ;-)

    The problem with American deer is that they dream of being actors/actresses. And, they frequently mistake headlights for spotlights. So, when they see those beams approaching them on the road, they absolutely must stop and do their rendition of a tap-dance. I think it goes two steps to the right, a hop to the left, and then spin around. Of course, by that time, there's usually an almighty PLOP, and a US$3000 bill for the owner of the car. :-(

    I had a buddy who encountered one of these tap-dancing deer at speed late one night. Luckily, his wife had moved from the passenger seat to the back seat, because, when the PLOP occurred, there was also a mighty shattering of glass, and he looked over to see the bloody remains of the deer smeared all over his passenger seat. It seems that they're just about the right height to fly over the hood (bonnet), smash into the windshield (windscreen), and are heavy enough to penetrate it.

    Now y'all know why most of the rednecks have pickup trucks with huge bush-bars on the front. ;-)

    Dave (who happens to own a pickup truck...

  24. DougS Silver badge

    Deer may be worse in the US because of what's around our roads

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but where kangaroos are hopping in front of your car there are generally no ditches on the side of the road. Is there generally vegetation up close to the road or is there a 'buffer zone' where you'd be able to see kangaroos? The lack of ditches and especially if there's a buffer zone, it would provide autonomous cars a fighting chance to see them out there before they get on the road. It might not be possible to predict their movements, but the car can at least slow down to give itself more ability to evade the kangaroo or stop completely if necessary.

    Where I live roads outside of cities/towns typically have ditches on both sides, and often tall weeds in those ditches and farm fields or pastures to the other side of the ditch. After June when the corn is taller than a human, the deer can go from invisible to leaping into the path of your car in one second, which is why deer carcasses (or the dried blood from its aftermath before it has rained) are so common. Hopefully heat sensing cameras would be able to see them even if they are 5-10 feet deep in the cornfield, giving the car much better notice than us meatbags get with our pathetic visible light only eyes.

    Kangaroos look like they're probably a little heavier and therefore do more damage to the vehicle and its occupants than the typical deer (at least the white tailed deer around here) so I can see why those collisions are probably a bigger issue from that standpoint. Up north they hit moose which can exceed half a ton, the occupants of a car/SUV often do not survive. Luckily they're slower and don't leap about like deer and kangaroos.

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Deer may be worse in the US because of what's around our roads

      They weigh similar to an adult male human and can move at over 10m/s+. They are unfortunately coloured making them very hard to see in the first place, especially at dawn and dusk where they are most active. They can and do change direction on a dime making appropriate evasive action difficult to determine. The only real way to minimise chances and reduce collision severity is to slow down at those times of the day. They tend to congregate in flocks (called mobs) so if you see one or two in a short distance then slow down.

  25. W4YBO

    Way off topic...

    Chipmunks. I was told by a friend thirty years ago that you could run over chipmunks all day, but never hit one. I called BS on the story, and have been watching for a roadkill chipmunk ever since. Finally saw a flat one (awwwwww) about a month ago. I called my friend at once to inform him, and also retract the call of BS.

    Now I feel better that it has been documented on The Register.

  26. Truckle The Uncivil

    Wrong way to go about it.

    Perhaps they are attacking the wrong problem. A couple of whistles attached to the front of the car and animals and flocks of birds get out of the way before you close in.

    So, prevention is possible but a cure would be hard with just LIDAR. I think you would need something like infra-red mapping.

    BTW: Has anybody seen a motorcycle and rider that has gone through a flock of budgies?

    I wonder what a flight of monarchs would do to a tesla

  27. The Central Scrutinizer

    I hit a roo once, or more correctly, it hit me. Leapt out from the side of the road and went straight under the car. Instant death and not a mark on it. Had to drag it off the road. Poor bugger. Or the time an emu came tearing out of the scrub and then did a 90 degree turn and ran alongside the car for 100 metres or so. Software has no chance.

  28. David Pearce

    Infra red doesn't help much in hot countries where ambient is similar to body temperature

  29. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Hobson's Choice

    In the case of a large animal jumping directly in front of an automated car, what will the car do? Plowing straight in can likely be the best option as cars are built to protect the occupants the best in a head first collision. Trying to evade could put the car in a head on collision with another car on the other side of the road or onto a sidewalk, off of a precipice, into a building/tree/lamppost etc.

    There was just a show on Horizon where they briefly mentioned situations where there is no way of avoiding an accident but didn't really explore how a computer could handle a moral decision. Hit the school bus full of kids not wearing seat belts or the massive Escalade SUV with one occupant surrounded by 8 airbags?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Hobson's Choice

      Trolley Problem, IOW. They can't use AI to solve the problem because the problem is intractable (as in someone dies no matter what--no real winner). Actor is irrelevant in this moral conundrum concerning death. I've previously known it from the Book of Questions as the "Guerillas in the Village" question.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019