For the average car driver, the biggest risks on the road are other drivers acting erratically and the occasional storm. But, Swedish carmaker Volvo believes there is a not-so-hidden risk out there for drivers in the northern part of the globe: the moose.
The automaker has recently developed technology that is meant to protect drivers from wildlife getting in the way of their Sunday drive. Their Large Animal Detection System has been created to spot and identify large carbon-based “hazards” and stop the car immediately. While created with moose in mind, this detection software can stop any car from colliding with large animals such as kangaroos, deer, or bears.
While some may laugh envisioning moose as an ample threat against drivers, this technology has the ability to save lives. It was developed to reduce the number of fatalities — both human and moose — due to distracted driving. In fact, moose-related car crashes are a growing problem not only in the United States but in other northern countries such as Canada and Sweden. According to How Stuff Works, between 1996 and 2006, 17 people died from moose-related car crashes, but the moose seem to have it worse that we do, as about 138 moose die every year from cars in Anchorage, Alaska alone.
So how does it work? Volvo’s system utilizes radar to pinpoint objects around the car, then identifies them with a camera. The camera will see a series of shapes and movements and then match what it sees to the already established database of thousands of different animals. It will then slowly start the car’s automatic braking system.
In order to make the system successful, Volvo engineers dedicated a lot of time to researching how animals move in the wild.
“We put a lot of effort in seeing how animals moved and teaching the computer to look for that movement,” Volvo lead safety engineer Malin Ekholm explains to Wired. You can’t just tell a moose to run across the road, so we created initial captures of real animals and then simulated variations of their movement for the computer.”
Volvo is so serious about the risk of moose that they have a test moose in their crash laboratory, and design their cars with structural defenses in case someone does come in contact with these gentle giants.
This system debuted in Volvo’s S90 Sedan and XC90 SUV, and can now be found in their off-roading V90 Cross Country Wagon.
To the moose of the world, this is for you.