Black boxes, you have already heard about them during unfortunate events, especially in aviation. They now arrive in cars. How do they work? What can they be used for? Are they different from those of airplanes? This is what we will see in this article.
Flight recorders, or rather commonly called “black boxes” in the aeronautical world (paradoxically, these black boxes are not black, but orange or red in order to be more easily spotted in aircraft debris) have been democratized during the 1960s. They are generally placed at the rear of the aircraft, since this is the part that is generally best preserved during an impact with the ground or the sea. These boxes record a lot of information in order to , in case of problems, to more easily identify the source.
A box can record at least 28 data such as altitude, speed, time or pressure. Some newer and more sophisticated devices store up to 1300 parameters. From this data, it is possible to perform a computer simulation of the flight.
The black boxes that will equip our cars will be a little less complete, but the principle is basically the same. A law voted by the European Parliament in November 2019 will make them mandatory from next July 6 on all newly homologated models. Note that there is a certain nuance to be had, because it will not concern all new models, but all newly homologated models. Then you have to wait July 6, 2024 so that all new special models are equipped, throughout the territory of the European Union. Thus, all cars that are already homologated (all those that are already on sale) will not need to be equipped with black boxes before 2024 in order to be sold by dealers.
EAD, the new black box for cars
A new term will therefore soon enrich the automotive lexicon. To clearly define what it is, just look at the definition of the European Commission: EADs (for Automatic Data Recorder) are used in vehicles to record and store data in the event of a collision.
EAD will thus become mandatory from July 6 for new types of passenger cars and vans under revised EU rules. In 2024, all new models will be equipped with it. If you have a second-hand model, that is to say already out of the dealership and registered, you will not be concerned. Will thus be concerned the models not yet marketed or homologated. We imagine for example that the brand new BMW iX1 scheduled to arrive by the end of the year will perhaps integrate a black box, unless it succeeds in passing the homologation before this summer.
What data is recorded?
The black box is equipped with an electronic chip which records data provided by the vehicle such as speed, acceleration or braking phase, seat belt wearing, use of the indicator, collision force , engine speed or inclination of the vehicle 30 seconds before the accident and 10 seconds after the impact.
In aviation, black boxes also record pilot conversations, in particular to analyze the causes of an accident. Rest assured, by car, this will not be the case: ” The black box does not record any personal data about the driver or passengers of the vehicle, such as sounds and conversations inside the cabin.says the government website.
At the same time, if the black box does not record conversations, it will still know if you have disabled any of the security technologies you have, such as queue keeping assistance, ESP or automatic emergency braking again.
Why is the EDA implemented?
These data will be used on the one hand to establish statistics, as indicated in the text voted by the European Parliament: only the Member States will have access to them, “in order to conduct road safety analyzes and assess the effectiveness of specific measures they have taken. »
But that’s not the only reason black boxes are installed in our cars. They will also make it possible to shed light on certain data that are today complicated to analyze following an accident. Indeed, with the multiplication of driving aids, the analysis of an accident has become more complicated with the absence of physical traces. For example, ABS, which prevents the wheels from locking when braking, limits tire tracks on the road. With digital data, the causes of an accident will be easier to determine.
With the generalization of driving aids, which will one day lead to autonomous driving, these black boxes make sense, especially since, to come back to the statistics mentioned a little earlier, the data collected will also contribute to the development of future driver assistance systems.
Who will have access to this data?
Regarding the data recorded, this will be anonymous, ie neither insurance companies nor law enforcement should be able to use the information collected by these recorders against you.
This is specified in the text of the law and the dedicated page on the government website: “The recorded data will only be used in the event of an accident. Only investigators, judicial authorities or research institutes should have access to black box data. »
The data will therefore be used for accident investigation and analysis, for purely statistical purposes. These figures cannot be used to determine responsibility for an accident. At least, not yet, because it does not meet European standards for the protection of privacy.
How much does it cost ?
Considering the fact that the black box will not have to be installed in a used car, it will cost you nothing. On the other hand, it is on the purchase price of a new car that this could affect. The addition of this technology by manufacturers will be reflected in the final price of the car. A price that has also continued to increase in recent years with the presence of technologies, always more numerous, even mandatory now, in our cars.
It is difficult to say precisely what the impact on the prices of a black box in a car will be, but the technology is not very complicated, we find it hard to imagine an increase of more than 100 euros on the final price of a new vehicle for this kind of thing. Especially since some cars (we are thinking in particular of the Tesla) already incorporate this technology to a greater or lesser extent. A software update could therefore potentially activate this black box if the car already has the necessary sensors.
It should also be specified that from July 6, 2022, new homologated cars will also have to incorporate the following safety features: intelligent speed adaptation, driver drowsiness and loss of attention alert and tire pressure monitoring. What increase the bill a little more.
Are any changes planned?
For the time being, this system will thus make it possible to collect certain data, anonymously, in order to establish statistics and better understand accidents. The European Union has not yet announced possible developments concerning black boxes and, in general, it is still too early, especially since European regulations protecting privacy globally “prevent” all developments going against the driver.
On the other hand, it would not be surprising if one day, a modification of European regulations at this level intervenes to, precisely, allow a little more data to be recorded. At the same time, access to this data could also be opened up for other purposes, such as more easily determining the responsibility of a motorist in the event of an accident or even increasing the insurance premium or down depending on driver behavior. This is what Tesla is doing in the United States. But that, we are not there yet in Europe.
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