Transforming the iconic Volkswagen Badge into a protective audio shield to deter kangaroos from the road.

Tens of thousands of drivers hit kangaroos every year on Australian roads. With the current solution on the market proven to work, Volkswagen Australia partnered with the University of Melbourne and WIRES to create the world’s first scientifically proven vehicular kangaroo deterrent to help protect drivers and wildlife.

RooBadge was born when Noah Regan and I started chatting about attaching a speaker device to an Amarok to deter kangaroos; we looked at the front Volkswagen grill badge; that was the lightbulb moment, and the real adventure started.

We learned quickly that plastic ultrasonic whistles don’t work because you can’t detect the sound above the car. Plus, other solutions’ speakers don’t produce sounds that deter kangaroos because they don’t mean anything to them.

So, we partnered with the University of Melbourne to develop a unique approach to audio deterrent by creating one that uses “meaningful sounds” to deter kangaroos, like dingo calls, bird alarm calls, and foot thumps, which we mix with artificial sounds that RooBadge projects as a focused beam of high-frequency sound.

The last challenge was creating one sound that deters all kangaroos, which is impossible because the species react differently to sound. So, RooBadge connects to an in-car app that uses machine learning to compare the vehicle’s GPS coordinates against kangaroo distribution data, creating a unique audio deterrent for the particular species inhabiting that location.

To help collect real-time data, we partnered with WIRES to develop a reporting tool that allows animal protection agencies to report kangaroo collisions by species quickly and easily.

This use of GPS to modify the sound opened up a global solution, as we can update the audio to deter deer in Europe, North America, and other species.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Australia then set the challenge of making this technology available to all Australians, so we have also developed a universally mountable solution that can easily attach to a car’s number plate mount.