We couldn't make this up if we tried.
When it comes to self-driving cars, the technology has to be programmed properly in order to detect a huge variety of objects, from garbage cans to animals. But Volvo, according to The Guardian, is having a difficult time programming its "Large Animal Detection System" to spot one kind of animal in particular: kangaroos. The system can already identify and avoid deer, elk and caribou, but when Volvo went to Australia for additional testing, the kangaroo issue was discovered.
“Any company that would be working on the autonomous car concept would be having to do the same development work,” stated Volvo Australia managing director Kevin McCann. “We brought our engineers into Australia to begin the exercise of gathering the data of how the animals can move and behave so the computers can understand it more.” It was the kangaroo’s hopping and its proximity to the vehicle the system couldn’t figure out. “We are developing a car that can recognize kangaroos,” McCann clarified. Kangaroos, like deer in the US, are a serious and potentially deadly problem for Australian drivers.
The Guardian points out they cause more accidents than any other animal ‘Down Under, responsible for about 90 percent of collisions between vehicles and animals. Volvo’s detection system was designed - you guessed it - in Sweden, hence the reason for testing in Australia. Good thing Volvo did, because a serious safety problem was realized.