Black Boxes on the move

Yesterday, Toyota seems to have given 3 “black boxes” to NHTSA to see if SUA is happening in its vehicles.    This represents some movement on this issue, as I have argued for some weeks.  The black box records vehicle data on the fly and can be used to see what was happening in the vehicle before an event of interest (like SUA) occurred.   3 is more than 1, and certainly larger than 0, which was the status quo earlier.   So, this is progress.   Now, calculate the costs of the recall even ignoring the impact of perception on Toyota sales and image.   Could they do only 3 such boxes?  Hopefully, there are more on the way.

If I got such a black box, I would calibrate it.  For example, run the vehicle at high speed, low speed, apply the brakes, change the gear, rev the engine etc. and see what the data say.   Apply the brakes and press the gas pedal together in a safe location.  Then, I would even try doing an experiment like SIU Prof. Gilbert’s – even if somewhat forced, the black box logger should record the sequence that results.  In other words, the black box should not judge the logic and just report the data.    Then, off one goes looking for SUA and the results.   The data ought to be very revealing.

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2 Responses to “Black Boxes on the move”

  1. Dean Says:

    This is all very interesting stuff! A friend of mine owned a late model Hyundai that also had SUA. After pleading with the dealer to fix the issue and two visits from Hyundai HQ in California to Pittsburgh PA, they made my friend feel like an idiot as they al sat in front of him in a meeting room at the dealership. They finally decided to instal a “blackbox” for 1 week and finally the problem repeated itself but after fedExing the blackbox to California they could not see anything wrong. The dealer at this point decided to take the car for 2 weeks to see if he could trap it, he finally did and again, nothing on the blackbox. They starting tearing parts of the car apart and replacing components and found that the problem was in the cruise control electromechanical region. I wonder if these parts are made by the same supplier and therefore causing widespread issues to other car manufacturers???

    • safetransportation Says:

      Very interesting, indeed. It would appear to me that the “black box” did not store all relevant information for the diagnosis to be made. Based on your description, it also seems like the driver was vindicated (of pedal mis-application) when Hyundai installed the black box. Is that true? If so, what Hyundai did was the right thing.

      There are many theories of what could go wrong for SUA to happen. (Recall that there was a spike in SUA when cruise control was first introduced. The same happened when ETCS-i was introduced). I wouldn’t rule out cruise control related issues but cannot rule out other possibilities including software.

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