Friday, December 08, 2006

A aircraft-like black box for your car?

I am really tempted to get a CarChip and log the data about use of my car. I'm surprised that the system is under $200 and plugs in to the standard diagnostic port on post-1996 cars.

Another one of Simson's Technology Review columns got me thinking about it. He installed a CarChip on his wife's car, and also points out that a lot of cars already record data, but drivers are not aware of it:

For example, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 64 percent of the model 2005 cars sold in the United States were equipped with event data recorders (EDRs). Similar to the so-called black boxes in airplanes, these systems continuously monitor a variety of statistics and preserve their most recent readings if the vehicle crashes. According to the NHTSA, EDRs typically record "pre-crash vehicle dynamics and system status" (such as the car's speed), "driver inputs" (the position of the steering wheel and throttle and whether the brake is engaged), the "vehicle crash signature" (the car's change in velocity during a crash), and "restraint usage/deployment status" (how quickly the air bags were released). Consumers typically don't get access to this information. Its purpose, instead, is to help industry and the government make cars and roads safer. Increasingly, it is being used in the courtroom as well.

Finally, I am too lazy to make this a separate blog post: More UC Merced news -- trouble filling the dorms.