back to article Europe plots black boxes for cars

The European Commission's study into feasibility of fitting black box recorders to cars to record 20 types of data in case of accidents looks set to recommend the devices are fitted to all European cars. Project Veronica, which began in 2003 and cost £2.4m, has dismissed privacy concerns because the boxes only record data in the …

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Black Helicopters

So these boxes are psychic, then?

"The project team said there were no data privacy problems because the boxes do not continuously monitor cars"

and yet:

"The boxes will be triggered by sudden deceleration and will only record movement in the 30 seconds prior to an accident"

Clever, that.

Or is there a bit of confusion about the difference between "monitor", "record" and the meaning of the word "continuous"?

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Black Helicopters

Feature Creep

"The project team said there were no data privacy problems because the boxes do not continuously monitor cars and do not contain other personal information"

Yet.

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Black Helicopters

No problem

There will be by-pass kits on the market within days of these being fitted to new cars.

Black helicopters...

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Mixed feelings

While be libertarian instincts scream "foul" on this one; the damn things do seem to work. However, there's also the small matter of cost; at £500 a pop I'm guessing it will be the poor bloody motorist who pays (again) for these, rather than the insurance industry who reap all the benefit.

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Big Brother

Privacy

So, in the event of an accident, there will be no way to identify which car the black box came from .

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Pint

Quality Crashes

"Similar boxes are used by managers of fleet vehicles and police forces, with dramatic improvements in accidents."

They have a 52% increase in the quality of their accidents with customers saying their accidents were much more satisfying.

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Bronze badge

i like the idea

but i do not like the fact it can be so easily abused :/

but then again if my car was stolen and they were ale to find it through this device i wold be happy

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Joke

Dramatic improvements

"Similar boxes are used by managers of fleet vehicles and police forces, with dramatic improvements in accidents."

There weren't any fewer accidents, it's just that the ones that happened were more dramatic and provided a more significant opportunity for development of the personal plot arc of characters involved in the accidents. Although a road-safety disaster, the black boxes were considered a major theatrical success and very popular with the critics.

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FAIL

Preparing us for

Digital Tachographs in private vehicles.

Insurance companies will love it. They will detect who the furious drivers are and charge them extra extra

Two extras because they will charge us all the first extra anyway.

Next step will be "Auto nicking" via Digital tachograph. When a wagon exceeds 56mph (90kmh) for more than a minute a warning sounds and the driver then has 30 seconds to get below 56mph for an "Auto infringement" is recorded on the digital card. This is then downloaded at the depot (or at roadside VOSA checks). Slapped wrists are on the way (even though UK motorway speed limit is 60 mph we still get a bollocking because EU rulings state we have exceeded the wagons designed speed limit).

Just another reason for voting UKIP !!

Of course, the mantra "If your've got nothing to hide then your've got nothing to fear " will be used to justify it all.

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Thumb Up

Good idea

Sounds like a good idea to me. We have black boxes on aircraft. I'm guessing we have something similar on trains. Why not on cars?

As you say, it will only remember the last 30 seconds of activity, and will only be used (and indeed will only be OF USE) in the event of a crash. Sounds fair enough to me.

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Anonymous Coward

re. So these boxes are psychic, then?

I'd guess the box does monitor continuously, but has a 30 second buffer of the data in memory; in the event of being triggered, the memory contents are written to permanent storage along with subsequent data until the "action" stops.

Although this may not count as personal data, would it fall foul of the self-incrimination principle?

From the statistics quoted, it seems that all police officers should be monitored whilst driving public property (it obviously helps them concentrate on the road, or maybe they don't get quite so adventurous when the data can be obtained in the event of a mishap).

No doubt this will be opposed by petrol-heads, but we already accept this type of thing for pilots and HGV drivers so why not for cars?

I wouldn't like to see this as compulsory, but I think that insurance discounts will come into play on this and many drivers will accept them. Those that choose, for whatever reason, to opt out of crash monitoring will undoubtedly find themselves on the shit-end of insurance premiums as they will, statistically speaking, be in a group composed of more reckless drivers and Jeremy Clarkson.

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Joke

Accidents

"Similar boxes are used by managers of fleet vehicles and police forces, with dramatic improvements in accidents"

Does this mean that they will be checking to see that the next addicent will be more dramatic then the last one?

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Thumb Up

Of course by the time..

Brown and Co have finished installing these in every car in Britain (at your own expense you understand) these black boxes will recording everything and phoning home every few minutes to update the overarching "citizens travel DB" that will be created to hold all the data. naturally politicos and their cronies will be exempt, for security reasons of course.

Every town hall flunky and his uncle will have access, you'll never be allowed to see or change the data, the Police will want to keep copies of the data forever and will attach your DNA to it.

Every other day you'll get an automated NIP through the post for some new infringement du jour... not to mention our old friend road pricing

aprt from that, its a great idea.

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Big Brother

@ AC 10:14

Yep...only an over-the-air BIOS update (or delivered by hardwire at next MOT "certification") to unlock, and wham! Big Brother has a smile on his face.

And then it's only one step away from thinking about speeding = a trip to room 101 at miniluv.

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Go

I support this plan!

As a cyclist and a pedestrian, as well as a car driver, I support this plan. It's not uploading data to some central database, its just kicking in when there's a crash. I can even see it helping me if I'm in a car and someone runs into me -I'd certainly want to see his crash data as well as my own.

One q though, if it only kicks in on sudden deceleration, if a van runs over a pedestrian or cyclist and doesnt stop, would that not get logged?

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@ Outcast "Preparing us for"

"Next step will be "Auto nicking" via Digital tachograph. When a wagon exceeds 56mph (90kmh) for more than a minute a warning sounds and the driver then has 30 seconds to get below 56mph for an "Auto infringement" is recorded on the digital card."

Surely you are aware that lorries are already physically restricted (as in physically incapable of going faster) to 56mph by EU edict since the early 90's, and that this scheme is on the cards to be extended to vans in the next few years?

The reason? "To make rail more competitive". Because there are rail lines to every factory, warehouse and shop, apparently.

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IMPACT on road safety??

Nice one, John.

But, surely it's a bit like "air passenger duty" will have an impact on Global Warming. Which it won't.

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Alert

Weasel words.

"The Metropolitan Police saved £2m in accident damages after installing the boxes....."

Entirely possible. The Police drivers are continually evaluated and retrained, so it would make sense to feed any statistics on accidents with common, avoidable causes back through the (re)training programme to improve the process.

Presumably this means that Phase 2 of the EU's policy would be to send drivers off for "political^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hdriving reeducation" after an accident? I fail to see the point otherwise......

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@Steve Loughran

Agreed, assuming that these do operate as proper isolated black-boxes, I'm not sure I see what the problem is with these. As a driver I'd have no problem with everyone having one, because then it would be easier to prove that it was the other driver's fault the next time some muppet decides to run a red-light and nearly side swipes me.

if you are, as 90% of the population appear to believe, an above average driver who never causes crashes, and it's always one of the below average driver's fault, then you should have no problem with these.

As far as a hit and run would go, if there is no crash data recorded, I'm guessing that would be pretty damning evidence that the driver was not paying attention, since they didn't attempt to stop. Assuming you could identify the vehicle of course.

Of course, I still think that the best safety device to fit to cars would be a six inch spike in the middle of the steering wheel. People might actually pay attention to what they were doing.

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Headmaster

re. So these boxes are psychic, then?

@AC 10:55: "I'd guess the box does monitor continuously, but has a 30 second buffer of the data in memory; in the event of being triggered, the memory contents are written to permanent storage along with subsequent data until the "action" stops."

Indeed, that's what I'd assume too - it was just that the reported statement (not actually a quote, to be fair) from the project team was "the boxes do not continuously monitor cars", which appears to flat out exclude this.

So something's wrong with the quote, or the boxes are psychic and know when to turn themselves on just before an accident.

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Alert

I wouldn't mind this at all...

...especially after my last brand-new car was T-boned at the ripe old age of three weeks old, by a woman who was too busy yelling at her kinds in the back seat to watch the road in front of her. I also calculated, based on simple physics, that she was traveling at least 10 km/h over the limit when she slammed on the brakes, moments prior to almost killing my pregnant wife.

Oh yeah, then she tried to sue ME for soft-tissue injuries. Beeyotch!

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Seems like a good idea

If they only have a 30 sec buffer and don't record any personal/location information I don't see a problem. There are many cyclists in London who already privately use similar systems so that appropriate blame can be apportioned in the event of an accident.

The amount of information that can be gathered in the event of an accident is very small, what with requirements for getting the road running again. This should be a good step in the direction of improved road safety through design changes. We accept an ammount of deaths on the roads that would never be tollorated in air, rail or marine transport.

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Anonymous Coward

What a laoguh.

The only way that these black boxes will assist in the reduction of accidents is if they help identify the wreckless driving that causes the majority of them and are instrumental in putting outrageous drivers behind bars.

Then ... we might see fewer accidents.

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Gold badge

Airbag systems already do this

Most Airbag systems already do this. In the event of an airbag activation, they record a number of parameters immediately before, during and after the "crash". These can be recovered from the units after an accident "to allow the design of safer cars". Can't remember all the data stored, but there is a standard for it.

I believe that there have been cases of this data being used in court in the USA. Of course in court it doesn't matter that the accuracy of the data cannot be traced to any standard, and therefore there may be a large error factor in the numbers presented...

Unfortunatly none of these sytems record anything useful, like: Where the driver was looking, or what else the driver was doing at the time.

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Go

Not too bad a document

Having gone to the web site and read the paper, it's fairly interesting -a lot of focus on how to trigger on car/pedestrian and HGV/car "events" where airbags don't deploy but someone outside the vehicle ends up dead. Yet Ford are pushing back saying "airbag events are all we need" because that's implicitly built into today's cars.

A key point is on p39: "the most important direct effect of EDR in terms of road security concerns driver behaviour i.e. a driver can be expected to modify his behaviour accordingly knowing that traffic law infringements can, in principle, be detected if an ‘accident-event’

should occur;".

The point being if you are now speeding when you crash, driving aggressively, don't have the seatbelt on, that will show up. And if you weren't, if you were being sensible, indicating, made attempts to avoid the "event", that shows up too.

This is better than citywide ANPR speed tracking, because it doesn't create the monitoring and mining "everyone presumed guilty" infrastructure, instead is goes "don't screw up and nobody will care". Which is how it should be.

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Anonymous Coward

In the early 90's

All the ones in the met divisional cars were removed. The Federation (their union) objected to big brother tactics. Funny how times change. Mind you, back then we had lots of people who remembered HMG banginb on about the evils of a restrictive Soviet state with secret police, internal passports etc.

No mention of motorcycles at all in the latest document. Are we exempt or will we have been eradicated by then?

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The only problems I see with it are

1) People won't like it forced on them. Can you imagine the fuss if they tryed to introduce the trackers that some cars have, that also gets you an insurence disount?

2) £500? Again. Make it an option. Like so many things these people don't seem to realise we don't all like the same life as them. £500 on a £50k Merc may not seem like much but on a £6k Ford (or even a £3k bike) it is huge.

3) Force something on me for my own good, possibly ok, but this is nothing more than free market reserch for the police. F Off.

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Joke

Crystall balls

So, if this gadget can detect that you're going to have an accident in the next 30 seconds, why not have it inform the driver of his impending doom to at least give him the chance to take avoiding action or to send a last text message to his loved ones?

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@Martin 19

Rail shouldn't need any help to be competitive, it is way more efficient that trucks. And yes, the rail used to go to all the factories etc; until massive under-investment in rail infrastructure started in the UK (and continues - e.g. lack of electrical upgrades).

The only reason that rail is such a shambles (and this mostly applies to the UK) is because Labour have been in thrall to the road lobby for ages and the trains are run bunch raging incompetents who are dependent of subsidy to even have a hope of returning a profit.

Freight should go by rail from the port to the depot, only the last few miles to the should ever be by truck.

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£500? More like £5

These things cost a fortune currently because they're specialty items. Once the five or so companies globally that make car electronics standardise these things they'll practically be free - it's just a few megabytes of non-volative memory with selected bits of data from the braking and engine management systems being looped through it with a bit of logic to stop overwriting if the airbag sensors trigger a deployement.

And I find it hilarious that people are bleating about how the eurocrats are stealing our civil liberties. I'm no fan of Brussels but this is the UK we're talking about here, where your car snooping on you is the very least of your concerns. Anyone worried about civil liberties will have emigrated or gone to the re-education camps long before these gizmos get fitted.

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Pint

@Justabloke1

"Every town hall flunky and his uncle will have access, you'll never be allowed to see or change the data, the Police will want to keep copies of the data forever and will attach your DNA to it."

After a dramatic enough crash (and keep in mind after adding these boxes crashes have significant improvements in drama) it's very likley one of these boxes will have some of your DNA on it....and the windshield...and the road

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@ Martin 19

I have been a wagon driver for 23 years mate. I'm well aware of the restrictions and when they were implemented. (I Aim 44 tonners for Langdons)

You didn't take into account the skateboard effect going downhill. There are many times on the motorway when CC is enabled that the gradient lets the vehicle get up to 57 ish. @ 58.5 the exhaust brake kicks in to retard the speed but the clock is still ticking on the overspeed.

This is why you see the brake lights come on, on a perfectly clear motorway. You have to pull it down to 55mph for about 2 seconds to reset the timer. Many times I haven't quite held it at 55 long enough to reset and....... DING... DING.... DING.. OVERSPEED logged.

Now consider that OUR motorway limit for HGV's is 60mph then why have I just recorded a speed infringement ?

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Anonymous Coward

@Lionel Baden

What? Maybe I read a different article to you.

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Stop

@outcast

> Slapped wrists are on the way (even though UK motorway speed limit is 60 mph we still get a

> bollocking because EU rulings state we have exceeded the wagons designed speed limit).

So you're the daft bugger that's holding up all the traffic on the motorway, because you have no idea that the speed limit is 70 mph?

Increase the speed limit, re-educate the drivers, less idiots on the road, that'll cut down on accidents and decrease congestion. A little black box will tell the driver nothing other than something went tits up.

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Silver badge
Coat

Michelle Knight

"Wreckless driving"???

And that's a problem?

(He asked recklessly)

Mine's the sheepskin car coat with the perforated driving gloves in the pocket (nostalgia!)

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12345

"The boxes will be triggered by sudden deceleration"

So when that twat drove into the back of my stationary vehicle at 20mph last year, his data would have been recorded, but not mine (airbags didn't deploy).

Or would this device trigger in this instance?

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Anonymous Coward

Jean-Claude Juncker for President

Why in all cars? If it's not the individual accident but a sample of accidents they want, then they only need them in a sample of cars not all cars. Why can't the lessons from the police cars be applied to the general public?

Once you have these in all cars, the temptation to change their purpose will only take some asshole EU President Blairist.

IMHO, there needs to be an EU president who will stand up for individual rights. The last thing the EU needs is a Blair. A 'sacrifice liberties for collective gain', that had neighbours spying on neighbours and plastic police, and ASBOs replacing social interactions.

I'd say the Luxembourg candidate is the best choice at protecting freedoms. Nobody, event he UK, wanted the oppressive surveillance state that the UK has become.

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@Martin 19

"Surely you are aware that lorries are already physically restricted (as in physically incapable of going faster) to 56mph by EU edict since the early 90's"

Based on personal experience of driving on the roads of south-east England, I can say with absolute certainty that not every HGV in this part of the country is physically incapable of moving at more than 56mph...

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Grenade

hmmmm....

Sounds too much like the, once offered by some insurances, box to reduce your insurance premium. The box was going to measure distance you drove and the time of day and road speed you regularly used to better work out a risk valuation for your driving.

If these boxes fail to record any data where cyclists and pedestrians are concerned then forget it. As unlike car occupancy deaths have be falling year on year deaths to cyclists pedestrians haven't. Looks like an insurance scam to me. The boxes fitted to police vehicles also showed when the ligts and sirens were activated and for how long buggering up any getting back to the station sharpish at the end of shift.

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Boffin

Works for me

Antis do like their "If you've got nothing to hide then your've got nothing to fear" reference, don't they?

Problem is that in this case, the accident has already happened. People are dead/injured/shocked, and tens of thousands of pounds worth of metal is written off. Would you like your no-claims bonus to be stung for that? (Assuming you have fully-comp, that is - if you can only afford third-party or third-party-fire-and-theft then you're even more completely stuffed.) Or would you like a way of proving that you were driving safely and the other person was driving like a tit? And more seriously, would you like to be done for "causing death by dangerous driving" when the whole accident was caused by someone rear-ending you?

This is genuinely a case where the only losers are the people who commit the crime. If you don't mind dangerous drivers getting their insurance claim, buying another car and doing the same thing the next day, then fine. Me, I'd like the black box, please.

I note people raising the prospect of auto-reporting to some central database. This ain't gonna happen, mainly because it's technically implausible. You'd need to invent a standard way for cars to talk to base, and this doesn't exist yet. And roll-out for tech like this is on the order of decades, and would only happen if the US was interested - the UK market isn't big enough for this to be worthwhile. Not only that, but you'd also need reliable enough measurement of speed to be legally valid, and that simply isn't possible in a car because wheelspin happens.

In the case of a black box, the wheelspeed will be a useful guide. But most critical is the accelerometer data when the impact occurs, which tells the investigator the relative positions of both cars and the speed of impact. Brake pedal sensors are the other useful factor, saying how soon before the accident they braked (if at all). Wheelspeeds will be useful too for capturing events like spins or loss of traction - if you can prove that you spun on ice, you're likely in a better position than if you just drove clean into the back of someone without braking.

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Unhappy

So..

"Similar boxes are used by managers of fleet vehicles and police forces, with dramatic improvements in accidents."

Actual reduction in the numbers of accidents or a decrease in the number of accidents the insurance companies have to pay out for?

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Pirate

not really that useful unless camera is used

.. it is worth nothing without a camera in the car registering what the driver is seeing ,

and camera needs a wide angle too.

most of accident happens in town and involve car/pedestrian whatever coming from different direction than front of rear [for at least one of the party involved]

so the point is to detect visual data before the accident e.g. semaphore light

sudden deceleration it is worth nothing - you can kill a pedestrian and be able to slow down without triggering anything, one need true impact sensor, possibly radar but again, filter that against a normal traffic situation in town - slow speed and short distance..

i have ecall by the way, it is a good system, in case of catastrophic data change - airbag deploied and the like - send the position to ask for rescue

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FAIL

@AC 13:12

Sorry from what planet do you come from. Outcast mentioned the speed limit to HGVs, not cars 60mph on a motorway 50 mph on a dual carriageway. Most accidents happen on non motorway roads so increasing the national speed limit is irrelvant. Congestion is a result of crap driving mostly on the part of pants drivers some of whom claim because they drive thousands of miles a year suddenly they are all experts.

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Bring it on.

"Insurance companies will love it. They will detect who the furious drivers are and charge them extra extra"

So I won't be subsidising the tossers who think it makes people want to sleep with them if they drive like idiots. And... in the event of an accident it is not just my word against his that I was 'progressing in an orderly manner' and he was driving like a c**t. 30 seconds? Record the last 30 years of everyones driving to show in court. That would get insurance costs down.

I just wish it had 360 degree HD video and monitored blood alcohol and mobile phone use.

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Black Helicopters

Stasi all over again

"Project Veronica, which began in 2003 and cost £2.4m, has dismissed privacy concerns because the boxes only record data in the event of an accident."

No it doesn't, that's bullshit.

It records everything, all the time, but has _local memory_ for 30 seconds, and that's totally different thing.

Add some communication to surveillance authorities (the hardware will be there, you can bet your head for that) and you have around-the-clock unsupervised surveillance to anybody who has a car. One (TCP) packet twice a minute isnt' too much.

That's Stasi for you, all the way. Anonymously, for obvious reasons.

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WTF?

A bridge for sale

"It's not uploading data to some central database, its just kicking in when there's a crash..."

If you really believe that, I've got nice and large bridge to sell you for scrapping, you'll be a millionaire!

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Flame

Another surveillance tool

"...assuming that these do operate as proper isolated black-boxes...."

Assuming that the Governement will do The Right Thing(TM) when they can, _at your expense_, monitor you (your car) every second, is a) stupid b) dangerous.

Especially when British government has gone as far as they can in surveillance, in all areas. Why would this be a 180 degrees turn, a totally radical exeption from the rule?

I wouldn't believe that even a second.

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Flame

Surveillance is the motive here

"The point being if you are now speeding when you crash, driving aggressively, don't have the seatbelt on, that will show up"

And you get fined for that even if you don't crash. That's the point of the real-time surveillance, you know. You can bet that that surveillance system records so-called "speeding" permanently, right from the version 0.5.

" And if you weren't, if you were being sensible, indicating, made attempts to avoid the "event", that shows up too."

And nobody gives a damn: You crash, you pay. Nothing else matters. No amount of sweet-talk can change that.

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Black Helicopters

Naive people trust anybody

"Problem is that in this case, the accident has already happened. "

Oh yes, that's they _say_. Tell me, what exactly stops this device calling home twice a minute?

That's right: Nothing. Nothing at all.

ID and GPS-location with speed is about one TCP-packet, not much. It's like ping.

Modern governments in EU (including EU) are no different that government in DDR was: They want 24/7 surveillance to everybody (excluding themselves, of course) and they break and bend the laws as much they can to get it. No exeptions.

Combine these three and what do you get?

I'll bet 1000 to 1 that the fairy tale we've been presented isn't even half of the truth.

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Big Brother

IT angle :)

Start disassembling your old hard drives now -

you can cover the 'black box' in magnets. Let see what sort of recording they get then :)

@ Graham Bartlett :

> Or would you like a way of proving that you were driving safely and the other person was driving like a tit? And more seriously, would you like to be done for "causing death by dangerous driving" when the whole accident was caused by someone rear-ending you?

in the case of serious accidents - this already happens - skid mark analysis, final resting place(s) of the vehicles etc.

> This is genuinely a case where the only losers are the people who commit the crime.

no this is case of extended - even further - govt/business surveillence.

> mainly because it's technically implausible.

hmm - blue tooth, and wifi come to mind along with TCP/IP or UDP as a carrier method.

> Not only that, but you'd also need reliable enough measurement of speed

GPS

>to be legally valid

only enough so that insurance companies can charge you more.

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