Monday, June 13, 2011

Kangaroo? What kangaroo? Today's marsupial story.

Volvo is evolving its pedestrian detection & avoidance system — which uses radar & an infra-red camera to determine if the car is likely to hit a pedestrian — to recognize wild animals. It will be available in Australia within three years.

Trouble is, it's designed to recognize moose & suchlike, not the large fauna that you find on Australian roads, which, because of its unusual shape, is almost impossible to program for. Sure, occasionally cows & horses are hit or missed, but many large animal accidents here involve indigenous species such as kangaroos & emus. Plus, the system is designed for static or slow-moving animals, & kangaroos emulate smart bombs; large bounds, fast trajectory.

Maybe Volvo could market the system here without modification but with a different slant, possibly describing it as an early apocalypse warning system. If the car tells you there's a moose looming up on the road ahead, then get the hell out of there. An Ice Age is coming! The apocalypse is not far behind!

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