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These event data recorders are already in 96 percent of vehicles

If you thought police tracking your movements via license plate scanners was creepy, you may want to check your owner's manual to see if your own car has been spying on you for decades.

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Privacy advocates worry, but technology has caught bad drivers lying about accident causes

WASHINGTON – Many motorists don't know it, but it's likely that every time they get behind the wheel, there's a snitch along for the ride.

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But privacy advocates worry about effects of mandatory data collection

Black boxes have helped investigators solve the causes of plane crashes for decades. Now authorities hope they can shed light on causes of car accidents.

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Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota executive vice president in charge of research and development, has confirmed that a software glitch has caused the company's event data recorder readers to misinterpret speeds during accidents. According to Automotive News, the executive admits that his company had previously underscored the fact that it couldn't say whether or not there was a problem with the black boxes themselves. The software bug in the readers came to light during the manufacturer's investigation

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According to a report in The Washington Post, the event data recorders the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration used to investigate claims of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles have a history of problems. In one incident, a Toyota pickup that struck a tree in a single car accident was recorded as going 177 mph – far faster than any T100 we've ever seen. A separate reading from the same device put the truck's speed at a more feasible 75 mph. The article even says th

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Big Brother really wants to get into your future vehicle. Intel is currently hard at work on the next generation of vehicle event data recorders, the infamous black boxes that Congress has clamored for since Toyota's unintended acceleration problems dominated headlines earlier this year. According to The New York Times, these new black boxes may do a lot more than just record things like vehicle speed and whether you're wearing your seatbelt. Intel's prototype will incorporate GPS and all of a v

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When word first came down that Congress was looking to mandate that all new vehicles to be sold with Event Data Recorders, we knew that the added tech was going to be pricey. According to Automotive News, if legislators have their way, the new automotive black boxes will need to be both fire resistant and waterproof. Add in a significant amount of recording time before and after an accident, and suddenly the price tag per unit could soar up to a lofty $4,000 to $5,000. Currently, the EDRs track

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Long before shows like CSI misled the public about how long a DNA test takes and introduced the mythical world of "zoom and enhance," airplane black boxes were making people think you could minutely recreate an air disaster if you could just get the box. Not so. Turns out that quite a few cars sold in the U.S. have black boxes as well, with the same limitations: you can retrieve a certain set of data from them, but its quality and usefulness varies.

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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.

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As of today, when incidents like sudden acceleration happen, it's extremely difficult to diagnose conclusively what the cause was. Without a mechanism to track exactly what the driver did, what the vehicle sensors detected and how the vehicle responded, it usually ends up being a he said/she said situation.

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Click above for high-res gallery of the 2009 Nissan GT-R

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For now, if your car has a black box it's probably recording your speed, skids, steering wheel and pedal input and how many of your radio's presets are disco (not really). But PLK, a subsidiary of Hyundai, wants to offer you (or more likely your boss) a more talented black box. Their Roadscope device records all the above except for the bad radio, but adds lane departure warning and will take photos seconds before, after and during an accident. While it will be a big hit with fleet owners and re

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Though you may not realize it, your car is probably equipped with an automotive 'black box'. Also known as Event Data Recorders, these devices record information from a vehicle's various sensors during a crash – everything from airbag performance to the angle of the steering wheel to the speed of the vehicle is retained. Though an estimated 90 percent of new vehicles are shipped with the devices, each manufacturer uses their own hardware, software and file formats.

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