• Mar 5, 2010
Due to the ongoing NHTSA investigation and several lawsuits involving Toyota, the automaker's in-car "black box" data is coming into the spotlight. However, the Associated Press has conducted an investigation of its own, finding that Toyota has, for years, blocked access to event data recorder (EDR) information, and that the automaker has been inconsistent in revealing exactly what these devices do and do not record.

In this investigation, AP found that Toyota has frequently refused to provide information crucial to crash victims and survivors, and that in some lawsuits, the automaker has routinely provided printouts with key information missing. What's more (this much we knew already), AP reports that Toyota's EDRs use proprietary software (meaning it can only be read by Toyota), and that until just recently, there was only one computer in the entire United States that contained the software needed to rear EDR data.

In a statement to AP, Toyota outlined exactly what information its EDRs collect, including vehicle speed, gear shift position, angle of the driver's seat, whether the seat belt was used, and the accelerator and brake pedals' angles. In the coming months, we'd expect that Toyota starts to make more of this information readily available, especially with its committed cooperation to ongoing safety investigations.

[Source: The Associated Press via Yahoo | Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty]


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      • 4 Years Ago
      I was really surprised -- that is -- I did not believe they were "forthcoming", when they said they were going to START using blackboxes in the future. Almost all cars have had blackboxes for many years.

      It does not surprise me that the data is secretive; as I believe the original intent was to use the data to say a car was NOT at fault -- but once the data "on average" showed the car WAS at fault; they backed away from having that information in the public domain.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am surprised an ambulance chasing lawyer hasn't flipped $100 to a high school computer hacker to reverse engineer a Toyota EDR.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Your Hyundai Comment Isn't really fair. You might be talking about Honda, the brand that recalled around 450000 vehicles over airbag shrapnels. Hyundai did recall 1300 + 515 Sonatas and Tucson, it just happened to be their launch month and they had been recalled due to possible failure of automatic door lock (Sonata) and software problem in where occupants weighing more than 250lbs may trigger a airbag warning light (Tucson)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nobody should be surprised that Toyota is as secretive about its black box data as it is potentially criminally liable for its coverup. Why anyone would consider a product from such an exploitative and callous entity completely defies logic. Toyota is among the rarefied few that committed one of the largest frauds ever foisted on the American driving public, made inexcusably worse by cynically blaming owners of operation error. Even their "fix" is of dubious nature and may very well place countless Toyota and non-Toyota drivers, passengers and pedestrians who share America's roads in harm's way.

      The detritus left in Toyota's wake are the lives cut short or maimed by Toyota's substandard products. Americans are free to chose what transportation they desire, but poor choices should not be permitted to be among them. May Toyota suffer greatly for their criminal transgressions.
      • 4 Years Ago
      ....and in other somewhat related news, after months of time, energy, and a billion dollars spent on recalls in an attempt to idiot-proof their vehicles, Toyota will be be accused by additional owners who will inevitably find a way to stoop to even greated depths of idiocy and cry foul... let's move on please.
        • 4 Years Ago
        News flash GTrav. Toyota's recall doesn't even cover 70% of the cars where unintended acceleration complaints have come from, and they have continued to deny (despite evidence) that they are electrical problems with their cars. Toyota owners are also reporting continued acceleration problems even AFTER their cars have been 'repaired'.

        Toyota hasn't fixed their primary problem, period, and is still denying problems with their cars. They're not bending over backwards to help their customers, they're still doing the old 'lie and cover up' dance that got them to this point in the first place.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Cause if you are saying 'Toyota or Toyota fanboys doesn't claim Toyota makes flawless vehicles!' you are damn stupid."

      Not sure where you got that, because I didn't say anything even vaguely to that effect.
      • 4 Years Ago
      All ECU data should be open, not just black box, but all the necessary codes and sensor readings to do diagnostics. And I think inevitably it will end up being open. Right now there is a court fight to open the source to radar detectors because a person who was given a ticket due to one says that you can't show that the device works correctly or even that it isn't just to programmed to throw up 88 miles an hour as a reading from time to time instead of reading accurately in order help police with revenue enhancement. And he's right, if you can't tell how it works, how do you know what that number on the screen really means?
        • 4 Years Ago
        from the consumers point of view ECU technology peaked in 1995, it has been all down hill from there

        the simple fact is that the second i pay money for a product, it no longer belongs to the company that made it, it belongs to ME. shameful that companies are allowed to design in these systems that are there for THEM at YOUR EXPENSE

        i blame the govt for not outlawing these shady business practices years ago, and i am not just talking about cars. the same can be said for just about anything more complicated than a toaster these days

        just another example of how our elected representatives don't actually work for us, they know who their bosses are
        • 4 Years Ago
        I strongly agree with you. The OBD1/2 system was a great idea in the 90's, but there is too much proprietary stuff that has sprung up since then. This is a prime example.

        I'm not sure if anyone likes all these electronic nanny boxes that are popping up. If you don't work for a dealership, you don't know what they're collecting, what they're doing, or how they are working against you in warranty claims.

        Happy to be driving a 90's car these days for a lot of reasons...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yep, we should be able to see the data they are logging. The only thing that should be "black box" about them is their durability to last through accidents like "black boxes" in planes
      • 4 Years Ago
      To add to your comment. Making this OBD stuff proprietary also forces the dealers to buy exclusive computerized equipment for big $$. I firmly believe it has to do less with proprietary information and more to do with $$.

      It's such BS.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Some days, people want automakers to only collect anonymous information to help automakers improve their products.

      Other days they want the automakers to reveal all, privacy be damned.

      Make up your damn frickin minds
        • 4 Years Ago
        You're confusing two different things.

        I'd like them to only collect anonymous data, but I'd like to be able to collect it myself too.

        You can collect anonymous data in a proprietary way, personalized data in a proprietary way, anonymous data in a standard/open way or personalized data in a standard/open way,

        I'd like Toyota to collect no or only anonymous data, but I'd also like to be able to extract the data myself, including personalized data. Toyota prevents the latter part.
        • 4 Years Ago
        But privacy freaks don't want information on their driving available to all either. For obvious reasons.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @why not the LS2LS7? - correct, most other automakers allow consistent and routine access to their EDRs. The more toyota digs this hole, the more it's apparent it's an intentional move to hide serious inequities in design and engineering, not simply preserve some sort of unique snowflake edge.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Um... did you forget just saying...

      "I would add to that list of the east-asian cultural trifecta: respect for intellectual property (that is none to quite lacking) and the level of commitment to innovation (which is to say that it is practically nonexistent)."

      ... as if Japan and China are the same thing, and as if Japanese companies haven't been leaders in automotive tech for the last 30+ years?
        • 4 Years Ago
        You speak as if the Japanese invented quality control. That is simply wrong. They learned about quality control, via statistical sampling, from an American statistician, Edward Demming, during the period of American occupation in post-WW II Japan.

        Japan's culture was cribbed from Korean and Chinese cultures before them. Its written language is a derivative of Chinese characters. Its earliest history is only known from ancient Chinese scholarly works depicting the pirate island.

        The only home-brewed creation that the Japanese can truly claim is their deep and profound racism, which they impressed on Korea during their brutal "colonial" period.
      • 4 Years Ago
      All auto makers have the right to own its software. I kind of question the information posted here. Are they saying that a judge can't demand the information? Is Toyota hiding data in a known case?

      I'm a little confused about who they are hiding information from, because if its a court of law, then we have a problem, if its joe blow, then Toyota has every right to hide that information, and anyone who doesn't thinks so is foolish. I'd like anyone to try to get the keys to any automakers encrypted software.

      Be careful what you wish for. This kind of crap could end up with more information being recorded while driving. Speeding tickets by sensors, forced upkeep by an expensive "authorized" mechanic so no more DIY. The sky is the limit and GMs On Star can already send a notice for oil changes or any needed repairs. Don't let the fear of Toyota's recalls give the government more power to make you "feel" safe. Safe = $$$.
        • 4 Years Ago
        if you carry a cell phone, you can be tracked... on star is nothing that almost every american currently has...
      • 4 Years Ago
      The 5 Stars crash from NSTSA should include the analysis of the blak box information to verify their reliability.

      I guess, a new regulation and standard need to be defined.

      Note: In case of an accident, a chain of custody need to be established to protect the black box information from any tempering. Only certified and accredited personnel should be able to read the information under audit control, allowing such forensic information to be acceptable as evidence in court. Otherwise, any unprotected digital informaton is considered as hersaid.
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