Truck collisions with kangaroos inspire new crash avoidance technology

Animal collisions cost American car owners, including fleet businesses, upwards of $3.5 billion annually, but an Australian company is moving to stem the tide of damage, injuries and dollars drained from the pockets of U.S. drivers.

Originally designed to reduce the rate of collisions with kangaroos Down Under, Australian company ShuRoo is bringing its latest unit, the 2013 Mk IV ShuRoo, to the US market and says it is a major leap forward in animal collision prevention technology.

Owner-manager Justin Gore said the ShuRoo utilized unique ultrasonic technology—at a level humans could not hear—that is attached to the vehicle to help prevent wildlife collisions and that it had proven extremely successful on deer.

"Compared with kangaroos, deer seem to be even more alert and responsive to getting out of the way of the high-frequency sound ShuRoo emits," Gore said. "ShuRoo has been successfully deployed in Australia since 1986, with many fleet and domestic users claiming it has reduced the likelihood of wildlife collision by upwards of 70 percent, with fleet owners happily reporting that the unit had cut a swathe through their vehicle damage costs, to the tune of a 90 percent reduction."

Gore said the Mk IV ShuRoo had been upgraded specifically to withstand the tough weather conditions dished out across North America. "Over the past couple of years, we've implemented an array of improvements to remedy some minor technical issues and ready it for the North American market: we've enhanced its overall durability, appearance and end-user friendliness," Gore said.

"The upgrades include the PCB being completely waterproofed, increased speaker protection with a new double-layer filter system, a tough chrome-plated fascia and new user-friendly slimline design with external terminal plugs added to facilitate easier installation."

ShuRoo business development manager Peter Smith said the foray into the US market had been long-awaited, with the latest unit specifically upgraded to withstand all the elements of the American driving environment.

"ShuRoo works very effectively on deer, we know this from our own testing and from the fact an earlier model enjoyed a successful little testing foray into the American arena back in 2003, which proved the catalyst for us to develop a fully blown plan for the unit in the United States," Smith said.

"In fact, in October 2003, Heavy Duty Trucking Magazine wrote: 'One of our staff members who drives a truck tested this product and reports that deer not only perk up at the sound from the ShuRoo, they turn and bolt away from the roadway.' 

"And Roadstar magazine wrote: 'Columnist Dave Sweetman reminded me of a product that I obtained for him to evaluate called the ShuRoo. As you can imagine, the purpose of this device is to clear kangaroos off outback roads Down Under. Sweetman said he tried the ShuRoo on his previous truck and it worked. In fact, he said it worked much better than deer whistles. Deer really pay attention to - and scoot away from - the noise generated by the ShuRoo.'

"This sparked a flood of inquiries from fleet managers, and so we began working on a plan to release ShuRoo properly into the North American market, but, ironically enough, in the midst of our ongoing U.S. preparations, we were flooded ourselves, literally, by the devastating 2011 floods in Brisbane.

"But we've seen that as somewhat of a godsend, as the unit back then, while very successful, needed improvements, and we recognized this and acted upon it."