SYDNEY, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Australia's most proudly iconic vehicle, the ute, will undergo the driverless treatment next year, with technicians also working on a specialized kangaroo avoidance system, New South Wales (NSW) State officials announced on Wednesday.
Symbolizing the country's proud rural and working class traditions, Australian pickup trucks, known locally as utes, are widely used in remote areas where the going is tough and a rugged and practical vehicle is crucial.
Now in an effort to improve safety and mobility, the NSW government along with local council and industry are developing a driverless ute, which will also be able to factor in the unique and difficult to predict trajectory of a bouncing kangaroo.
"You couldn't get two more typically Australian things than a kangaroo and a ute," NSW roads minister Melinda Pavey said.
But when the two mix, the results can be deadly. Between 2012 and 2017, there were 500 serious injury crashes caused by kangaroos, three of which were fatal.
"No other country has to deal with the unpredictability of kangaroos hopping in front of cars. I'm excited we're trialling technology that protects drivers as well as wildlife on country roads," Pavey said.
Officials hope that the autonomous vehicles will help eliminate driver error, which causes 94 percent of crashes, as well as better predict and avoid collisions with local wildlife.
The trial will take place in the remote town of Dubbo, where the vehicles will operate between the center of town, the airport, and the widely renowned local safari style zoo.