Autonomous Cars are Having Trouble With Animals
【Summary】Self-driving technology can detect humans, other vehicles, and changing road conditions, but once outside of a city, the tech is having trouble with animals, especially kangaroos.
Self-driving cars will definitely help drivers in cities. In fact, that's why the majority of companies and automakers are testing their autonomous vehicles in densely populated areas, like Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Silicon Valley. In cities, driverless cars will be required to detect other vehicles, pedestrians, and ever-changing road patterns.
But moving away from cities, things, presumably, get a lot easier for self-driving vehicles. Road patterns in suburban areas don't change as much as they do in cities, pedestrians, aren't as common, and the overall traffic pattern tends to be much more subdued. But autonomous vehicles will also have to face one more item in suburban areas – animals.
Kangaroos Prove To Be Tricky
According to a report by Marketplace, animals, especially kangaroos, are proving to be extremely difficult for driverless vehicles to deal with. While automakers and tech companies have figured out a way for driverless cars to avoid getting into an accident with moose, elk, and deer, kangaroos still pose a major issue for autonomous vehicles.
As the outlet reports, kangaroos account for 80 percent of animal-related accidents in Australia. Unlike other animals, kangaroos are extremely quick and agile, making it hard for self-driving vehicles to detect and react to the creatures. Marketplace spoke with Pedro Domingos, a computer scientist at the University of Washington, in regard to why autonomous vehicles are having a hard time detecting kangaroos.
When questioned on why driverless systems can detect elk, moose, and deer, but not kangaroos, Domingos believes that the problem lies with awareness. "They're not terrible partly because people saw this was a problem and they've worked hard on it to detect these animals," said Domingos. "Deer and moose, they're bigger and they move slower."
Earlier this year in February, Volvo rolled out its new Pilot Assist II system that is packed with a lot of new features aimed at reducing the amount of animal-involved accidents. Other automakers, like Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac have similar systems in place, as well.
Domingos then explained why driverless cars have so much trouble with kangaroos. "They can jump quickly across the road and in front of the car," he said. "They're low. And they also change shape as they hop more than a deer does, which makes it harder for even a state of the art computer vision system to understand that yes, this is a kangaroos and not a wind-blown plastic bag."
Bespoke Technology For Specific Locations
While drivers in North American won't have to worry about kangaroos crossing the road, the situation would change how automakers and technology companies would change autonomous systems for specific regions.
"I think cars that get deployed in different countries and environments will have to be trained for those environments," said Domingos. "Having said that, the reason we have self-driving cars today is because of machine learning. It's not because somebody programmed into the car what to do. In fact, nobody actually knows how to program a car to drive. The car watches the person drive and learns to do the same."
If self-driving cars are having a hard time dealing with kangaroos, it proves that the systems are still far away from being perfect. While autonomous vehicles can avoid accidents with other vehicles and pedestrians, animals still seem to throw driverless vehicles for a loop. Hopefully, automakers and tech companies can improve the technology behind detecting animals.
Vineeth Joel Patel
Joel Patel has been covering all aspects of the automotive industry for four years as an editor and freelance writer for various websites. When it comes to cars, he enjoys covering the merger between technology and cars. In his spare time, Joel likes to watch baseball, work on his car, and try new foods
Production of Mazda MX-30 EV Begins in Japan
Ford Delays Launches of Bronco, Mustang Mach-E, and F-150
Ford Mustang Mach-E Coming With Over-the-Air Updates
FCA’s Plan to Restart Factories Includes Extensive Safety Measures
Tesla to Delay its High-Performance Roadster, Claims Elon Musk on Podcast
2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Will Feature Touch-Sensitive Steering Wheel
Lincoln Pulls the Plug on Electric Vehicle Partnership With Rivian
Detroit’s Big 3 Looking to Reopen Factories by May 18: Report
- Cerence Inc Partners with HERE Technologies to Bring AI-Powered Voice Access to Maps & Navigation
- Automakers Ford & General Motors are Allowing Rival Tesla to Lead U.S. EV Production Until at Least 2026, Data Indicates
- Chipmaker Intel Buys Public Transit App Moovit for $900 Million in Push to Develop Robotaxis
- BMW Decides its New iX3 Electric SUV is Not Coming to the U.S. as Planned
- General Motors Announces a $20 Billion Investment Electrification and Reveals its New Global EV Platform as the Automaker Looks to Take on Tesla
- Tesla Getting Close to Debuting Model 3 with 400-Mile Range for China
- Production of Mazda MX-30 EV Begins in Japan
- Ford Motor Company is Using Simulation to Design the Passenger Experience for its Future Self-Driving Vehicles
- Waymo Develops a Machine Learning Model to Predict the Behavior of Other Road Users for its Self-Driving Vehicles
- Nikola Motor Co Unveils its ‘Badger’ Hydrogen-Electric Fuel Cell Pickup With Up to 600 Miles of Range