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What animal totally confuses collision detection software?

Answer: The kangaroo.

Closeup of the front left corner of a car stopped on a road.
Wildlife detection systems in cars have gotten pretty darn good at detecting an animal in the road and hitting the brakes when the driver doesn’t have enough time to react. But there’s one type of animal that these systems just can’t recognize.

Marsupials of Australia, specifically the kangaroo but also the wallaby, are just too jumpy and unpredictable for the technology. Not only do they look totally different at rest than while in the air, but they tend to maneuver or change direction in midair to confuse predators. This also seriously confuses cars’ animal detection systems. So much so that manufacturers have given up trying to develop a system that can recognize them.

Therefore, the land down under has had to find new ways to try to prevent kangaroos from getting hit on the road. Eurobodalla Shire, a community in eastern Australia about 200 miles from Sydney, tested a system on a half-mile stretch of road. They installed thick green fence posts every 82 feet with a device inside them that flashes blue and yellow lights and emits a high-pitched chirp when it detects headlights on the road.

So far, the system is working, with kangaroo fatalities on that road going from five per week to five in eight months. But with a high price tag of $11,000 AUD for an area of less than a mile, it will be a while yet before Australia’s 9,000 miles of highway could get this system.