Fears over domestic spying operations and privacy concerns have been splattered across the headlines with alarming frequency, and now it appears that even the auto industry isn't immune. According to a report from The Huffington Post, the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Deborah Hersman, has argued that black boxes should be mandatory in self-driving cars, like those that Google and Nissan have been working on.

"Data capture is going to help you understand if there is a vehicle problem, or if it's a human factors issue," Hersman told the Post. The fear behind black boxing cars, though, has always been one of individual privacy being compromised. That isn't likely to change regardless of whether a car is controlled by man or machine, as evidenced by an Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers survey, which claimed that nearly three-quarters of participants were worried about driverless cars recording personal information. Adding to that, 70 percent of respondents feared their info being accessed by the government, according to the HuffPo report.

Those arguments aren't enough for Hersman, though. "When you have a driverless car, you have to demonstrate on the front end that you have the data that shows it's safe. But we would also say, you need to make sure you have good data recording capabilities, so when there is an event, you can understand what happened."


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  • 20 Comments
      rbnhd1144
      • 1 Year Ago
      I used to like Google, but now I see them taking over I dislike them.
      Jake S
      • 1 Year Ago
      Once you open the Pandora\'s Box, you can never close it. What will start as a law to track self-driving cars will soon turn into a law to track ALL cars. Count on it. Privacy is a pipe dream.
        tool0117
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jake S
        hey Jake... it already exists for human driven cars. This initiative is for autonomous cars only
      tool0117
      • 1 Year Ago
      These so-called "Black boxes", or EDR's, are in over 90% of new cars made today. So that begs the question, what the heII is the "Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers"
      • 1 Year Ago
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      • 1 Year Ago
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      knightrider_6
      • 1 Year Ago
      What a bunch of crap! a) EDRs are already installed in 90% of cars b) EDRs record only 5 seconds of data. Some manufacturers may have EDRs recording up to 2 minute. c) EDRs do not record location (GPS) data d) EDRs do not transmit data in any way If someone wanted to spy on you, it would be much easier to track your cell phone or look up your internet activity.
      csgill75
      • 1 Year Ago
      We are talking about Google so of course they will have data recorder's. That way they can send you targeted ads based on where you drive.
      EXP Jawa
      • 1 Year Ago
      I can understand the privacy issue in a normal situation, where the (human) driver doesn't want the government to know where they go, how often they speed and such. But, if the car is driverless, the privacy concern comes whom, exactly? The passenger? Or is the assumption that the machine will become self-aware, get upset that it's being spied on, and then poof - Skynet is born and the machines take over? I, for one, would want to know that a driverless car has data logging to make sure that it's performing properly while driving me around...
        Astutent
        • 1 Year Ago
        @EXP Jawa
        The privacy concern is still an issue of the government (and insurance companies) having access to exactly where, when, and under what circumstances the owner of the car travelled. The exact same concerns we have with driver-based cars. The problem with this legislation is that, if it's mandated in driverless cars, and driverless cars become the only affordable cars available in 25 years, then we'll all be subject to this privacy intrusion with no ability to "opt out".
      EJD1984
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm waiting for my self -driving living room. The Michelin ATMBL http://www.michelinchallengedesign.com/the-challenge-archives/2011-plus-10/2011-showcase-of-selected-entrants/atmbl-by-mike-maaike-usa/
      jonwil2002
      • 1 Year Ago
      I do not have a problem with black-boxes on cars (driverless or otherwise) as long as: 1.The black-box does NOT collect location or tracking information of any sort (e.g. GPS) 2.Full details of the information collected by the black box are disclosed to purchasers/owners of cars. 3.Consumers are given the ability to read and examine the black box data in their cars 4.Laws are put in place requiring the owner of the car to give permission before the black box data can be accessed (i.e. insurance companies and others can't force you to hand over black box data) and 5.Laws are put in place requiring the police to obtain a warrant for accessing black box data
      • 1 Year Ago
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      Time
      • 1 Year Ago
      Most cars these days have data recorders already...wasn't there a Range Rover driver even arrested about a year ago after he hit a small child that ran into the road but he was still charged thanks to the black box revealing he was doing something like 120km/h in a school zone.
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