Being one of the engineers that worked on the initial development of this technology, it's amusing to read some of the comments from people who have little knowledge of what has already been implemented. The standard for airbag crash sensing systems is 0.99995 with 95% reliability - and you can imagine the amount of testing that is required to achieve that standard. In the early days of electronic crash sensing, when the technology was evolving from electromechanical sensing, engineers needed field data to validate the crash sensing algorithms, and to datamine relevant data for further algorithm development. The technology was developed to record only deployment events and near-deployment events, and to lock the data securely after a deployment event. The data was passively collected from barrier tests, taxi cab, police car, and rental car fleets and was used to validate the system before it ever got approval for use in passenger vehicles. Our families ride in the vehicles with the systems we design.
I guess in your line of engineering, design validation and continuous improvement by collection of field data is to be considered "crap"? Remind me what products you develop so I can avoid them.
That being said, once the technology is developed, the toothpaste is out of the tube, and bean counters and polticians abusing it can only be prevented by informed and active citizens. The government has no business using this data to incriminate individuals a priori, and should only be made available as subject to a warrant as provided in our 4th Amendment protections, until that goes away along the lines that the 9th, 10th, and 2nd Amendments are being assaulted today.
This has nothing to do with saving lives or public safety. Follow the money, folks. This is all about about making sure the proper party gets blamed and they are sued to the hilt. They only want to make sure the data can't be tampered with so it will stand up in court.
As has already happened (i.e. rental car companies), data will be collected about where and how fast you were going (via GPS) for the purpose of revenue collection. You will simply get a speeding ticket in the mail informing you of the infraction. Again, its just money folks. "Public safety" is just a smoke screen to make the program appear palatable.
You raise a bunch of good points, TJ. One, quite notably, is "who is behind this initiative?" If you consider that 96% of vehicles already have the technology, and the manufacturers did so without the prodding of a mandate, it tells you a lot.
The issues brought up here need to be sorted out and fast. The technology (e.g. OnStar) is upon us so that no physical contact with the vehicle is necessary in order to suck out the memory contents of a VDR. We can still buy a car that doesn't have a VDR but that is going away soon. How long will it be before cars will be required to have a cellular based wireless data connection. When that cuts in the vehicle owner will be the LAST person in the data access permission chain.
I'm all for software that allows you to erase the info. That information will never help you. It's there to let the government fine you or your insurance company to raise your rates. Whatever they'll feed you about the data being helpful to science and there to save lives is a bunch of BS.
DO NOT blame all engineers for the creation of this concept and package. I may have been the first to suggest something, but my idea was a system to record seatbelt usage, the idea was that if occupants wee not wearing their belts that the insurance company would not need to pay anything. I still think that it would be a very effective incentive towards belt use. It would allow freedom of choice, but of course it would not allow freedom from consequences. But it does not ever seem to have been taken seriously.
I like this idea and the technology has already existed for quite some time, though generally used for the opposite effect - disabling reads from a programmed device (ROM, microcontroller ROMs) to protect IP. This has also been done in a non-desctructive way where memory read/write can be re-enabled, but only after erasing the contents.
) Take that existing tech, repurposed to write-protecting the memory
) add in on-board logic that monitors the sensor values of interest and locks the memory to read-only after a catastrophic event was detected
) possibly add the ability to re-enable writes (so the hardware could be reused), but only after incrementing a non-resetable, non user-writable counter that indicates writing was enabled after a catastrophic event.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
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