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Close Encounter of the Wallaby Kind


Sep 6, 2012
Warrnambool. Vic. Australia
On a recent trip to my daughters (Nov 27th), while listening to a 'Talking Tesla' podcast, I had an incident with a wallaby running in front of my Tesla.

On a stretch of road in the Western District of Victoria (Australia), I decided to reduce my speed from the allowable 100 km/hr and set TACC to 80 km/hr because of the potential of coming in contact with a kangaroo. (I also engaged Auto pilot).

You can see the wallaby, from a standing start on the other side of the road, jump across in front of my Tesla.
[I have the Level 1 Auto pilot with software]

At the time of the incident, I braked when I saw the wallaby start its run across the road, however I also had the sensation of the brakes being applied by the Tesla itself as the brake pedal felt like it was being depressed further than I was pressing the pedal myself. (Hope you get my meaning). I didn't notice the pulsing of ABS but that may have been because my foot is in plaster!

Reviewing the video, the braking does not appear anywhere near as urgent as it felt to me at the time, which is quite weird. Does the sound of the disengaging of auto pilot depict when the brakes were applied?

On a related matter, and a possible corner case for autonomous auto pilot.

I felt that travelling at 80 km/hr was appropriate on this road even though it is a posted as 100 km/hr; however it did display the hazard sign for kangaroo, but no associated speed restriction.

How should an autonomous car treat that situation?

I thought a reduced speed gave a much better chance of avoided damage to the car and injury to the animal as it gave a better chance of braking/avoidance success.

What happens if the animal is hit/wounded and there is no-one in the car?

About 18 months ago I hit a wallaby with my 'Holden Volt' about 200 km further along the road. This time the wallaby came from the near side and I hit it with resultant dents to the car.

I could not find the animal, I assumed it was able to continue somehow....
  • Informative
Reactions: RichardMcN


Nov 11, 2015
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
That was a close call. Happy you came out unscathed. In my case, it was not a close call. And it was definitely a kangaroo as its head was way above the bonnet. Lucky for us it was a glancing blow and hit mostly the left front bumper. The kangaroo hopped away. Damage was over 3k though. :(

I wasn't on autopilot at that time and my reaction time was definitely slow. I wonder if the car would have braked if it was on autopilot?

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