Horse avoidance tech is latest Volvo push

Car makers around the world are all starting to implement their own automated features, such as parking assists, lane assist, automated braking and there’s some just around the corner that could allow cars to stop themselves if they predict an accident, or take over inching forward if you’re in a traffic jam. Volvo on the other hand believes that one important piece of technology every car needs, is animal detection.

As part of its pledge to eliminate road deaths in Volvo vehicles by 2020, the firm is introducing new sensor technology to its future vehicles using radar and an infrared camera to detect any animals that stray into the path of the vehicle, first giving a warning to the driver about the impending danger, but if they don’t react in time, the car will also automatically apply the brakes.

To help perfect this technology, Volvo has been sending out some of its researchers to capture footage of animals on the road, like moose and deer, which can then be analysed to help figure out the best algorithm to use for detecting their presence on the road. The reason larger animals are being focused on for now, is that they tend to cause the most damage because of their weight. However more than that, due to their height, they can often ride up onto the windscreen which is where the added danger of impacting the passengers directly comes in.

While you might not think this is as worthwhile a technology to develop as other safety features, Volvo is based in Sweden, where there are many as 47,000 road accidents each year involving collisions with animals, some of them unfortunately, leading to fatalities. They’re not uncommon here in the UK either, though collisions are less likely to involve a moose than they are a badger or fox.


“The technology is based on training the system to recognise the shape and moving patterns of animals and the biggest challenge in this project is gathering enough data to perform this training,” said Volvo safety advisor Andreas Eidenhall (via Horsetalk).

“Right now we are right in the middle of that process.

“We started with moose and deer but now we have moved on to horses and cows. We are focusing on the largest animals that cause the most serious collisions.”

While the end goal he said, was about stopping collisions altogether, due to research conducted by Volvo, it was discovered that if the impact speed could be reduced from 100 kilometres per hour, to 80 kilometres per hour, the chance of a serious injury were drastically reduced. The automatic braking technology will certainly help there, as will other features coming soon to aid collision avoidance.

There’s no release date given for Volvo’s animal detection system, or any mention of what vehicles it would be implemented in, but due to the company’s commitment to ending road fatalities in new cars it produces by 2020, it will surely be hitting some of its latest vehicles within the next few years.

Do you guys think animal avoidance is an important development to make separately like this? Or is it the kind of thing that Google’s automated cars will do naturally since they also avoid pedestrians and bicycles?

    Jon Martindale

    Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.

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