News

Aim is to avoid ’roos

By Country News

A world-first driverless ute will be trialled on regional NSW roads in a bid to prevent accidents caused by kangaroos.

The NSW Government will retrofit a crew-cab ute with automation technology to help detect the native Australian marsupials and protect drivers.

NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said current driverless technology could not react to the unpredictability of kangaroos.

‘‘No other country has to deal with the unpredictability of kangaroos hopping in front of cars, so I’m excited we’re trialling technology that protects drivers as well as wildlife on country roads,’’ she said.

There are about 100 serious injuries a year on NSW roads due to collisions with kangaroos and wallabies.

In 2018 two people died in collisions with kangaroos, as the drought has forced the marsupials to head into regional towns searching for food and water.

It will take eight months to retrofit the ute with the technology before it takes to roads around Dubbo for a year of testing.

‘‘If we can have in future automated vehicles — or future cars — the ability to detect a kangaroo it’s going to be a godsend to people travelling on country and regional roads,’’ Ms Pavey said.

The driverless ute would be supervised at all times, she said.