VW RooBadge

Client: Volkswagen / Agency: DDB Sydney

Transforming the iconic Volkswagen Badge into a protective shield.

Every year, hundreds of thousands Kangaroos are killed by motor vehicles in Australia. Each collision can be potentially disastrous for the driver, not to mention guaranteed damage to the vehicle.

RooBadge was an idea born from a conversation between David Jackson and myself. David had just returned returned from a VW shoot in rural Australia where he saw hundreds of roo roadkill. I’d experienced the same thing whenever I ventured into rural Oz.

Despite this major issue there were only a couple of options of sound repellents on the market. None of them were scientifically tested or proven. We thought, surely with some great creative and technical know how we could do better.

What if we could get this right? And imagine if the whole thing could be housed within the large badge on the front of the Amarok?

Luckily VW loved the idea and were up for the challenge.

After more than three years of design and testing with the help of Vert Design, Melbourne University and WIRES animal rescue, permission has now been granted from the University of Melbourne Office of Research Ethics and Integrity to move into field testing.

The RooBadge utilises a unique approach to audio-based deterrents by mixing meaningful sounds to kangaroos (like bird alarm calls, predatory sounds, and kangaroo foot thumps) with synthetic sounds.

During testing, it was also found that different breeds of kangaroo respond to different mixes of sounds. Using advancement in car technology we can change the sound deterrent by GPS location.

“We have worked on sounds that will be meaningful to Eastern Grey Kangaroos, things like dingo calls, alarm calls made by birds and the alarm thumps that kangaroos make to warn each other. We will then be able to tweak the sound for other species.” Melbourne University’s Associate Professor, Graeme Coulson

The RooBadge connects to an in-car app to combine GPS (Global Positioning System) and kangaroo distribution data to emit a ‘focussed beam’ from the 17cm diameter unit as a ‘unique audio deterrent’ localised for the species of kangaroo in the area.

If the next round of testing proves successful we could see the RooBadge further adapted to other animal species like deer and made available for VW vehicles around the world, saving countless wildlife and drivers alike.

Pretty cool... to say the least.