Automotive Blackboxes

Well, it’s happened. According to a CBC news article, a Montreal driver has been convicted of dangerous driving. While there were no witnesses, the car computer recorded his speed at 131 km/h at the time of the crash.

The problem I see is simple: these computers are not designed to record evidence; they’re designed to operate the car airbag system. They’re connected to the vehicle’s sensor network, which can return false or misleading data, and I’m sure the computer is trivial to tamper with, before or after an incident. (In fact, the /. crowd is already discussing the challenge :-). Will the positive uses balance out the potential abuse?

In this case, the blackbox was only used to settle a “he said, she said” type of case. The defendant claimed that the other car was speeding; there were no witnesses and no skid marks on the road. It’s interesting to note that he was cleared of the more serious charge of “criminal negligence causing death”; hopefully the courts/jury decided that computer testimony wasn’t enough for the more serious charge?

The OPP has been using blackbox evidence for a while now, apparently, as have insurance companies. Something to keep on the radar…

posted at 9:41 am on Sunday, October 26, 2003 in Science and Technology | Comments Off on Automotive Blackboxes

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