Germany to require 'black box' in autonomous cars

By Jos ยท 25 replies
Jul 18, 2016
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  1. The fatal crash of a Tesla Model S car on self driving mode has increased the pressure on auto makers and regulators to ensure that automated driving technology can be deployed safely and to find ways of determining accountability in the event of a crash. To that end the German government is set to pass new legislation requiring all cars equipped with self-driving features to include a black box, similar to those required on aircraft.

    Under the proposal from Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, all automakers will have to install a recording device that tracks when autopilot is active, when it has been disengaged, and when the driver is being asked to take over control.

    The law also requires that drivers remain seated at the wheel so they can intervene in the event of an emergency. However, it also puts a significant amount of weight on what’s expected from autonomous systems, specifically mentioning that the person behind the wheel is not required to pay attention to traffic or concentrate specifically on surrounding traffic.

    The draft is due to be sent to other ministries for approval this summer.

    Tesla is one manufacturer that already keeps logs of its Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system. The functionality is still in Beta, however, and the company requires its drivers to keep their hands on the wheels and pay attention to the road even when the car is driving itself.

    Permalink to story.


    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,256   +454

    Honestly I think this should be in all cars, regardless of this autonomous feature or not. Various telemetry should be stored for the past few hours of drive time. Would be a huge help for investigators after a collision.
    wiyosaya, Timonius and Reehahs like this.
  3. Kenrick

    Kenrick TS Evangelist Posts: 570   +372

    it is already installed in north american cars. Ford cars are the first one to implement this. Most cars produced now, also has this blackbox like function. I cant find the article but this was approved already in US.
  4. bmw95

    bmw95 TS Maniac Posts: 199   +164

    Sweet man. Yeah after watching a lot of Mayday documentaries on plane crashes, the black box has saved so many investigations from failure and helped to vastly improve safety measures implemented in later years. Glad to hear it's being implemented in US cars.
  5. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,730   +3,703

    That and cameras. Put a stop to a lot of lies.
    wiyosaya and Timonius like this.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,256   +454

    Approved... but is it mandatory?

    I wish I just had a damn dash cam on my last accident, would have saved me a ton of headache. Video doesn't lie...
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,023   +2,556

    Gosh, did I really just hear all you, "give me privacy or give me death" clowns, invite the NTSB into the cockpit of your car, to siphon as much of your personal driving information as they can? Why not follow airline procedure and allow voice recorders as well? That way, it will be a matter of record when you curse or fart while driving...(y)

    And you you really asking the government to step in protect you from the likes of "extreme visionary, tech junkie hero" Elon Musk", so you can't hurt yourselves by not paying attention behind the wheel? After all, an accident has to be someone else's fault, it couldn't be yours, right?

    Are these the very same people who ran their mouths for pages against the FBI's request to Apple to unlock a terrorists phone?

    Y'all just blew the "hypocrisy meter" right off the dial".


    Make sure you are well rested, and have not ingested any type of intoxicant for several hours before you get behind the wheel.

    Turn that stinking cell phone off while you're driving.

    And especially for those who think "self driving cars are going to save the world". No, AI's aren't smarter than all humans, they're just smarter than you.

    But yeah, a dash cam is a great idea. Just make sure it's YOUR dash cam, and YOU'RE the one who offloads the data from it
  8. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,730   +3,703

    Asking for a black box to record data is not the same as asking for monitoring. You can have a black box and still have privacy. Besides I gotta ask what kind of privacy would be at a loss having your driving details recorded. Now if they were broadcast to a dispatcher, I'd have a problem with that.
  9. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,023   +2,556

    I guess you haven't seen the ads for "Progressive Insurance' 'Snapshot;".

    Hint, all the data this little toy accumulates is reviewed prior to you being given an insurance quote.

    And while it's true many people lie about the facts of an accident. onboard monitoring flirts with contravening, "self incrimination" protections.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2016
  10. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,730   +3,703

    No I haven't. I don't watch ads, ever.
  11. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,023   +2,556

    In this case, that's a pity.

    Well, even in the presence of "monitoring", such as the NSA monitoring every phone call in the country, how many phone calls do they actually listen to closely? Accordingly, how many drivers would they actually track block by block, and how many would they want to?

    Then comes the question, suppose the FBI did want or need to acquire data from a car's black box, what would the outcry be from here?
  12. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,730   +3,703

    The same outcry when faced with a search warrant or probable case allowing for search and seizures. Personally I don't see the confusion, either they have authority or they don't. The only question is whether or not we will give up our rights and allow this authority outside of a court of law.
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,023   +2,556

    Well, when it comes to the NSA, they don't actually need a warrant per se. And as you're well aware, I already agree with you on the topic of valid warrants.

    My central point here, is, "have the roads become so crowded, and the drivers so reckless and stupid, that we need to summarily invite the authorities into the cockpits of our cars"?

    Or is the millenial generation such a bunch of thumb sucking imbeciles, they think they need a computer to drive them around?

    After all, people whimper when they find out their cell phone provider can tell when & where a call was made from, and how long it lasted. Of course that sort of does fart in the face of true, "unlimited calling". In which case it shouldn't matter where, when, or how long the call took, because on a true "unlimited plan", you "couldn't be charged separately for anything".
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2016
  14. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,730   +3,703

    No and a black box doesn't do that.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,256   +454

    We are already being tracked with our mobile phones...

    Anyway just because there is a "black box" doesn't mean it has to upload data over wireless... I am thinking purely for investigative purposes after a crash. Sure it can be abused, along with many other things.

    On the note of dash cams, they are great for analyzing your own driving habits and problems. I use one not only to protect myself in the event of a crash, and for entertaining myself with the stupidity of others later on, but to go back and see where I made mistakes and learn how I can improve. A lot of people aren't willing to analyze themselves, too many think they are perfect drivers. If that were true there wouldn't be any crashes...
  16. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,023   +2,556

    Well, with onboard telemetry, you can bet they'll be there right after an accident, along with your insurance company.

    Oh I'd love to install a dash cam for possible insurance and self entertainment purposes! The trouble is, in my neighborhood, someone would steal it and sell it to buy crack. I suppose I could always buy a portable, take it out when I'm done driving, and then hide it under the bed with me while I'm in the house...(y) (Don't tell anybody I said that).
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2016
  17. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,730   +3,703

    Yep, but like I said that is not the same as monitoring for no reason. Which allows for freedom from privacy violation until an incident occurs.
  18. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,023   +2,556

    Well Cliff, I guess we can debate this semantic point forever. This much I can tell you, Progressive's "Snapshot, is recording every thing you do behind the wheel, and basing you insurance quote on that information. So, in that case, a rose by any other name is monitoring.

    As far as whether or not a black box will turn into monitoring, is a topic of some conjecture. Since some people are welcoming telemetry into their cars with open arms, I'd be hard pressed to not wonder if full scale monitoring could be that far behind. Oh, perhaps you'll be ready for it, if or when it happens.

    If you're not too busy, have a look at this:\
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2016
  19. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,730   +3,703

    What is so hard for you to understand? Just because we ask for a black box doesn't mean we are asking for broadcasting to be added to the black box? You keep bringing it up as if it will be included. Well maybe it will and maybe it won't. Broadcasting will technically be an additional component (even if it is integrated) much the same way as adding broadband module to a Personal Computer. Broadcasting will never be a requirement for recording data.

    And besides you are forgetting one detail. The black box would no longer be needed, if data can be sent and stored elsewhere through monitoring.
  20. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,023   +2,556

    Please stop talking down to me. The most fun in coming to this site is listening to a bunch of whimpering privacy freaks piss and moan how the NSA about how the NSA is listening to their inane phone calls about virtually nothing. Then we get the big about face, "please put a black box on board, we're scared.

    With that in mind, and since you didn't find, (or look for) any interesting points in the article I linked, I'll bring it to you:

    More than 60% of new cars worldwide are expected to have connected capabilities by 2017, up from 11.4% last year, says ABI Research. At the same time, those "connected cars" hold the potential of divulging speed and a variety of data that could be used by law enforcement or others.

    Aware of privacy concerns, developers of a proposed nationwide system of connected cars say they are trying to build in safeguards.

    The system will be designed to let drivers stay anonymous, to constantly change designators for any particular vehicle every few minutes in order to make sure no driver can be tracked, says Tom Schaffnit of the Vehicle Infrastructure Integration Coalition, which is organizing automakers for the project.

    If a nationwide system goes forward that will connect cars to each other and the highway, Schaffnit says, he is confident privacy concerns will be addressed. It's logical: If the government is going to require connected cars, "then you need to be worried about privacy," he says.

    Now, they're claiming "privacy concerns will be addressed", and we better hope so. Since the next time you come blasting over a hill at 80 MPH in a 55 MPH, while your "connected car" is spraying data around, you might be looking at a ticket, or worse, higher insurance rates.

    When you get into a system like "Snapshot", whether or not the data is being monitored in real time is a pretty moot point. It's exactly like a surveillance recording, you can play the whole thing back whenever you want to.

    Then too, you gotta ask yourself, "while Progressive is claiming they're looking for good drivers, does that mean rather that they're trying to weed out the bad ones"? "Ad speak", as it were.

    Then too, the more crap you pile on a car in the way of "safety features", the higher the price. For example, the Tesla", is supposed to "save the world from pollution". It probably will, in the sense that no one can afford the ones which are available now. No problem, I'll just hold my breath until can get one in the type of vehicle I want, at a price I'm able to pray, without the Tesla corp. being able to watch my every move, should they deem it, "appropriate".
  21. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,730   +3,703

    Ohh please, the way you talk down to everyone. How do you ever expect anyone to treat you differently?

    Oh and by the way I stopped reading there. My interest in the rest of what you had to say went away with your arrogance.
  22. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,023   +2,556

    Well, telemetry is cool. OTOH, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
    I got the distinct impression you never had any interest in what I had to say, so that's entirely predictable Why dont'cha put me back on your ignore list, while you toddle along and "guardian fight", against someone who hasn't been to Oz and gotten a brain.?

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,256   +454

    Alright guys all I was getting at is a camera really recording the view of the road, like police cars use. Along with telemetry being recorded including location, speed, direction, steering input, brake and accelerator input. The system I'm thinking of would be self contained, it wouldn't transmit anything. Simply be retrieved in a serious collision say where people were killed and police needed answers.

    Sure it can go well beyond that but that wasn't my direction.
  24. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,023   +2,556

    Well, I hate to resort to platitudes, (no I don't, not at all), but it's like they say, "give them an inch, they'll take a mile".

    Nobody realized Google would become so invasive, but the next thing you know.

    There are most certainly problem drivers who need a police escort when they're drunk behind the wheel. Those people could certainly use to have their ignition operated by a breathalyzer. But if you've had a couple beers at a barbecue and want to sneak home after said aforementioned barbecue, the roads aren't crowed, it's a Sunday so there's no school, it would be a shame if your car locked you out at .08. Especially, when the legal threshold keeps dropping. Will it ever be .07, or maybe .06, who knows.

    The quickest to force drivers off the road is to up the ante for a vehicle, by requiring more an more junk be standard equipment.

    Then too, you have the "squeaky wheel minority", who always seem to get things done nobody really wants. Something could happen where a certain group of individuals decide data collection after an incident isn't enough.

    The fact that groups like this will spring up is almost a given. "MADD", the "right to life groups", and certainly the anti gun lobby who are trying to gut our constitution are certainly not figments of our imagination. An imaginary need for highway safety beyond all reason already resides with the "a computer could drive me around better than I could drive myself set" already exists here. So, how hard would it be to force active monitoring in that "intellectual" climate?
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2016

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,256   +454

    I know what you are saying, it can and probably will be abused. I get it... If it would make you feel better you could put some brass mesh around the box. Or hell, just wrap your whole car in the stuff. Maybe you can absorb the radar that cops are shooting at you to give you a speeding ticket!

    In all seriousness I'm just thinking of ideas to help improve vehicle safety and simplify jobs for police, investigators, insurance, etc. which in theory (likely not in practice though) could save money and later on save lives where improvements can be made.

    In the US, and probably just about everywhere else too, drivers training really needs to be a lot more in depth and a lot more stringent with regards to being a safe, defensive driver who is also aware of how to properly perform emergency maneuvers. I wouldn't doubt that 99% of the drivers on the roads don't have the necessary knowledge to avoid many common avoidable collisions. 95% of that 99% probably ignore the road laws anyway so perhaps this is pointless. It just really disgusts me the amount of fatalities we have in vehicle collisions. I'm certainly not perfect by any means, but I feel like I'm trying a hell of a lot more than others.

    There are plenty of other things to discuss on this particular topic, but in the end and depending (heavily) on the implementation, I support "black boxes" in road vehicles.
    cliffordcooley likes this.

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