Volkswagen Developing Anti-Animal-Collision Sound Badge

I live in a rural American county where police are few, but the speed limit is enforced by deer. The sheer amount of dead roadside deer keeps body shops in business and the local vulture population fed, but it’s still sad to see.

In Australia, it’s kangaroos that are getting hit by vehicles. Volkswagen estimates vehicle-roo collisions at “tens of thousands” annually.

They’re thus developing, together with the University of Melbourne, this RooBadge. It’s a hi-tech badge for their Anorak model, that emits “audio deterrents” to drive kangaroos off:

“Unlike standard speakers that scatter sound, RooBadge utilises directional speakers to emit a focussed beam of sound far ahead of the vehicle, where it’s most effective,” VW writes.

“The RooBadge utilises a unique approach to audio-based deterrents by mixing meaningful sounds to kangaroos (like bird alarm calls, predatory sounds, and kangaroo foot thumps) with synthetic sounds.”

“With multiple species of kangaroo found across Australia, all of which react differently to different sounds, producing a single sound to deter them all is nearly impossible. So, in a world-first innovation, RooBadge uses machine learning to compare its GPS coordinates against kangaroo distribution data to optimise its sound, deterring the kangaroo species that inhabit that location.”

The RooBadge isn’t always on; instead it’s geo-activated, meaning it uses GPS and telemetry. When the vehicle is traveling above a certain speed outside of a town, it kicks on. (Strangely, VW doesn’t mention whether the sounds are emitted at a frequency that humans can hear; I’d think that would be a major determinant for potential buyers.)

They’re also developing a more universal design (though still VW-branded).

And there is some hope that, if the RooBadge proves to actually be effective, we’ll see something similar in the ‘States. “Animal collisions are a global problem, with deer being the most significant issue across Europe and North America,” says the company. “So, we’re working with partners overseas to adapt RooBadge to deter deer and other problem animals worldwide.”

Video below, but be warned: It contains a lot of graphic dashcam footage of vehicle-kangaroo collisions.

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