The name of project is derived from the "black box" data recorders used in aeroplane cockpits. Black boxes (Event Data Recorders) allow collection, recording, storage and exporting of data related to motor vehicle pre-defined events. In the frame of the project, two functional specimens of such a device were designed. The design of a related Czech legislative and feasibility study is also part of the project solution.
The history of automotive black box units goes back to 1990 when the General Motors company integrated this unit (SDM - Sensing and Diagnostic Module) without publicity into selected product series. A modified model, recording data from the last five seconds, was installed into the Cadillac in 1998. Subsequently there were many other attempts to design alternative black boxes, unfortunately not experiencing wider application.
The recording unit is to be optionally built into the following vehicle categories equipped with a Car Area Network (CAN) bus: passenger vehicles, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and buses .
It is also possible to mount the unit on other vehicles but it requires proper sensors of selected parameters to be installed (increased purchase price and installation costs). The system periodically reads data from on-board buses (fast and slow CAN, eventually other units, e.g. radar, GPS etc.), evaluates them and writes them to a ring buffer. It is rewritten with new records after being filled. Rewriting of recorded data stops at a certain interval after the detected moment of the accident - it is recognised by exceeding specific limit values of selected variables (linear and lateral acceleration).
- Verify contribution of the unit to determine causes and development of an accident.
- Compare evaluation of simulated accident based on data from BlackBox unit and without it.
- Verify technical aspect of BlackBox unit (functionality, reliability, credibility of data).
- Identify possible difficulties for putting system into operation.
- On the recording accelerometer unit, verify basic range of the operational values for braking retardation / acceleration as an important parameter for the activation of BlackBox recording unit.
There were basic driving tests conducted with the SuperB vehicle with an installed BlackBox unit in city traffic, on the R10 expressway and at the airport in Mnichovo Hradište.
A draft BlackBox unit has been prepared in compliance with the EDR regulation proposal (Event Data Records, proposal of USA federal regulation no. 49CFR563 as amended by the last proposal on 15th June 2004). This proposal assumes optional installation of the BlackBox units in these vehicle categories: passenger vehicles, HGVs and buses with service weight up to 2.5 tons (and gross vehicle weight below 3.8 tons) The standards for motor vehicle manufacturers will be adapted according to the regulation proposal so that it is possible to gain the information necessary to analyse causes of an accident.
The regulation anticipates short-time 14 second recording of selected data (8 seconds prior to collision and 6 seconds after it). The data are divided into obligatory data that have to be recorded by all vehicles equipped with the EDR unit, and additional data, required for specific vehicle categories such as school buses etc. Frequency of data recording and accuracy are features of the specification as well.
The recent state of BlackBox unit application is very constrained because offered products are intended to be used in passenger cars. UDS (Unfalldatenspeicher) devices are being sold at the price level of €1,500 or more. It has to be mentioned that one of the important limiting elements, preventing these devices from becoming more popular, is that evaluating software is provided free of charge for the needs of surveyors.
There is much to be solved even from the legal point of view. French traffic safety experts seconded a proposal for standardisation study of an events data recorder (Information document no. GRSG-86-28 - Proposal from the French expert concerning the standardisation study of an events data recorder).
GRSG group has called upon international standardisation of the events data recorder within the frame of WP.29. The proposal deals with collecting and recording of relevant data from M1 vehicle category's existing control units. The exact list of recorded parameters could therefore include vehicle identification, vehicle speed, use of seatbelt by driver and passengers, use of lights and brakes.