Toyota secretive on 'black box' data

Discussion in 'Prius, Hybrid, EV and Alt-Fuel News' started by PriusLewis, Mar 4, 2010.

  1. PriusLewis

    PriusLewis Management Scientist

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    AP IMPACT: Toyota secretive on 'black box' data | General Headlines | Comcast.net

    AP IMPACT: Toyota secretive on 'black box' data

    SOUTHLAKE, Texas — Toyota has for years blocked access to data stored in devices similar to airline "black boxes" that could explain crashes blamed on sudden unintended acceleration, according to an Associated Press review of lawsuits nationwide and interviews with auto crash experts.


    The AP investigation found that Toyota has been inconsistent — and sometimes even contradictory — in revealing exactly what the devices record and don't record, including critical data about whether the brake or accelerator pedals were depressed at the time of a crash.
    By contrast, most other automakers routinely allow much more open access to information from their event data recorders, commonly known as EDRs.
    AP also found that Toyota:
    _ Has frequently refused to provide key information sought by crash victims and survivors.
    _ Uses proprietary software in its EDRs. Until this week, there was only a single laptop in the U.S. containing the software needed to read the data following a crash.
    _ In some lawsuits, when pressed to provide recorder information Toyota either settled or provided printouts with the key columns blank.
    Toyota's "black box" information is emerging as a critical legal issue amid the recall of 8 million vehicles by the world's largest automaker. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said this week that 52 people have died in crashes linked to accelerator problems, triggering an avalanche of lawsuits.
    When Toyota was asked by the AP to explain what exactly its recorders do collect, a company statement said Thursday that the devices record data from five seconds before until two seconds after an air bag is deployed in a crash.
    The statement said information is captured about vehicle speed, the accelerator's angle, gear shift position, whether the seat belt was used and the angle of the driver's seat.
    There was no initial mention of brakes — a key point in the sudden acceleration problem. When AP went back to Toyota to ask specifically about brake information, Toyota responded that its EDRs do, in fact, record "data on the brake's position and the antilock brake system."
    But that does not square with information obtained by attorneys in a deadly crash last year in Southlake, Texas, and in a 2004 accident in Indiana that killed an elderly woman.
    In the Texas crash, where four people died when their 2008 Avalon ripped through a fence, hit a tree and flipped into an icy pond, an EDR readout obtained by police listed as "off" any information on acceleration or braking.
    In the 2004 crash in Evansville, Ind., that killed 77-year-old Juanita Grossman, attorneys for her family say a Toyota technician traveled from the company's U.S. headquarters in Torrance, Calif., to examine her 2003 Camry.
    Before she died, the 5-foot-2, 125-pound woman told relatives she was practically standing with both feet on the brake pedal but could not stop the car from slamming into a building. Records confirm that emergency personnel found Grossman with both feet on the brake pedal.
    A Toyota representative told the family's attorneys there was "no sensor that would have preserved information regarding the accelerator and brake positions at the time of impact," according to a summary of the case provided by Safety Research & Strategies Inc., a Rehoboth, Mass.-based company that does vehicle safety research for attorneys, engineers, government and
     
  2. Ads_green

    Ads_green New Member

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    I find it insulting that Toyota would claim not to monitor brake/abs and accelerator position in any crash recording systems.
     
  3. apriusfan

    apriusfan New Member

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    Interesting how they don't monitor the systems when they are at fault and do monitor the systems when they are not at fault.... I wonder why that is? :confused:
     
  4. GrumpyCabbie

    GrumpyCabbie Senior Member

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    Do all Toyotas have this system or is it just USA models?
     
  5. apriusfan

    apriusfan New Member

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    It is a company secret - if you don't know the answer to your question, you must not be worthy enough. I don't know the answer to your question, so I am definitely not worthy enough. :eek:
     
  6. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    All toyota's have ERDs. I do not know if they record the same information in different regions. I am not even sure if there is a laptop in Europe with software installed to read the things.
     
  7. GrumpyCabbie

    GrumpyCabbie Senior Member

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    So why have it then? Is it a system they're testing or is it a 'get out of jail free' card for when law suits against them turn nasty?
     
  8. LakePrius

    LakePrius Special member

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    Has anyone around here tried to interface with the box and see if they could pull any data from it?

    It would also be nice to know if the box can be owner disabled without botching up some other part of the electronics.
     
  9. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    AFAIK the Toyota Prius repair manual is silent on the question of EDR, so I do not know whether this functionality exists; and if so, exactly where the data is stored. If it exists, maybe the SRS ECU stores the data since that ECU is supposed to be replaced after airbags are triggered.
     
  10. Kablooie

    Kablooie Member

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    It's really beginning to sound like Toyota knows what the computer problem but they refuse to implement a fix.

    My guess is that it would require some computer sensor replacement that would require serious rebuilding of current cars. The recall cost on 8 million cars would be prohibitive.

    But if this continues and they don't do anything, I would think they could have bigger problems.
     
  11. malorn

    malorn Senior Member

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    This is going to get incredibly bad for Toyota...they have known all along. The largest car company in the world and this has been questioned for 6-7 years, do you really think they don't know? Maybe Mr Toyoda does not know, but do you really think nobody at toyota knows?
     
  12. RoyThePriusGuy

    RoyThePriusGuy New Member

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    Can the experts here offer some insight here re the implementation of ERDs in Prius? How detailed is the captured info. What is captured. Is the 2010 version even more comprehensive. etc.
    You folks seem to know a lot of the specs in the various software systems in the Prius, and perhaps the ERD as well.

    From what's coming out (in the Press...) this could be extremely damning for Toyota. If the 'ERD holdback of information in court cases' and the acceleration issue is a glitch in software/electronics, hold on....
     
  13. Aegison

    Aegison Member

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    First, a comment on the black box -- from George Carlin:
    "If the "black box" flight recorder is never damaged during a plane crash, why isn't the whole airplane made out of that stuff?"

    :focus:

    Back on topic, there is a disquieting issue which has been raised in lawsuits involving the former Big 3 -- the alleged practice of comparing the economics of adding a safety feature to a car vs the cost of instead paying off those lawsuits which occur without it.

    I don't know either way whether if this has ever been established in court, but it has been alleged numerous times -- such as in the stopped Crown Victoria Police Interceptors some of which burst into flames when hit from behind by another car at hi-way speeds.

    But, in concept, it's an attractive allegation. Wouldn't cars stop faster if they all had disc brakes front and back? Couldn't still-stronger metal be used in some crash-prone areas of the car (where it wouldn't negate the energy-absorbing crush zone for accidents)?

    And so, Toyota has probably had similar discussions and perhaps some fall along these lines and might come to light even if the ultimate cause of the problem is different.



     
  14. resoh02

    resoh02 Member

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    I am a 2006 Prius owner and have always talked up about my Prius, but I think its about time Toyota stepped up to the plate and really fix the problem. Already there are reports of acceleration problems after the fix. There is no way you can convince me that the recall for the floor mats have anything to do with the problem. If the problem is in the ECM that would probably effect every Toyota with the same module back as far as 2001. I have not had the problem yet but it could occur when the right set of conditions are met. Will I buy another Toyota product, I am really not sure, if you would asked me that question 6 months ago I would said yes. If they are sweeping the ECM under the carpet then my answer is a definate NO.
     
  15. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Keep chanting ... I'm certain the gloom & doom forcast will happen... someday
    :rolleyes:

    What's really bazar is how normally the personal injury attornies (though they call their group "Consumer Attornies" ... if you want to be polite) are a hated lot ... accused of stiring up more than what's really there. And yet now, a much larger than normal minority seem to cling to their every word. When THEY say Toyota is hiding something (just try to disprove a negative) ... it makes GREAT press ... and so regardless how unfounded, the press need to sell advertising ... and DRAMA SELLS.

    So the policy holders (Manufacturers GM, Toyota, Ford, etc) WILL get their insurance rates jacked up ... passed along to you & I via the cost of production of future cars ... for the 10 or 12 deaths out of the 30ish fatalities (out of what ... 8 million cars) hoping to cash in. Then the insurance industry (THE strongest lobby in the nation) will arm twist congress for even higher hurdles in order to recover for ALL claims. Remember that, next time you need a medical specialist for your liver or back or cancer or what ever.
    aint america great?
    ;)

    .
     
  16. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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  17. apriusfan

    apriusfan New Member

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    If it is the ECM (and it could be the ECM; that and the Traction Control VSC) function is where I would be looking), Toyota could be trying to sweep it under the rug for a simple reason - COST. If they had to replace the ECM hardware in every car they made since 2002, that expense would erase the current balance in the Cash account on Toyota's Balance Sheet. :eek:
     
  18. ManualOnly

    ManualOnly New Member

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    Here's the Toyota FAQ on ERD published back in Sep 2008.

    Secretive? Hardly.
     
    4 people like this.
  19. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    Regardless of the critics, the problem will be solved when the inventory of readers reaches at least 100:
    55 days and counting to April 30
    Bob Wilson
     
  20. vegasjetskier

    vegasjetskier New Member

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    Because the aircraft would be too heavy to fly. Engineering is always a compromise. :rolleyes:
     
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