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You think you know who you are? You have no idea. – Crash

The U.S. Department of Transportation is considering making Event Data Recorders (EDRs) mandatory standard equipment in all new cars and trucks unless public outrage puts the kibosh on the law, explains AOL.

EDRs are “black boxes” — just like airplanes have. They can record a wide variety of things — including how fast you drive and whether you “buckle-up for safety.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants EDRs to be installed in every new vehicle beginning with model year 2008 — on the theory that the information will help crash investigators more accurately determine the hows and whys of accidents.

But EDRs could — and likely will be — used for other purposes as well.

Tied into GPS navigation computers, EDRs could give interested parties — your local cash-hungry sheriff, for example — the ability to take automated ticketing to the next level.

Since the data recorders can continuously monitor most of the operating parameters of a vehicle as it travels — and the GPS unit can precisely locate the vehicle in “real time,” wherever it happens to be at any given moment — any and all incidents of “speeding” could be immediately detected and a piece of paying paper issued to the offender faster than he could tap the brake.

That’s even if he knew he was in the crosshairs, which of course he wouldn’t.

UPDATE: The government will not require recorders in autos but said on Monday that carmakers must tell consumers when the technology is installed to track speed, braking and other measurements.

The recorder, a four-inch square metal box, is currently installed in most recent GM vehicles and select 2000 and later Ford vehicles (pdf).

Originally designed to improve air bag performance based, the event data recorder can tell traffic accident investigators about the car’s speed, engine RPMs, how far the accelerator pedal was pressed, if the brakes were applied, whether the driver’s seatbelt was buckled and what warning lights were on – all from about five seconds before impact.

When an an air bag deployment collision accident occurs, the data is recorded onto a computer chip. The data can be retrieved and is presented in a report. The data download from the EDR will usually contain 6 to 8 pages of information.

SenseCam is a Black Box for humans. SenseCam captures up to 2000 VGA images per day into FLASH memory, continually building repository of what you did during the day. Sensor data, such as movement, light level and temperature is continuously monitored and any sudden changes triggers the camera.

BMW’s iDrive cockpit controller is getting upgraded this November in their X5 sports utility vehicle. This marks the third version of iDrive. The first, in 2002, had eight general functions that you selected by first sliding the controller in one of the eight compass directions. Version 2, circa 2004, reworked the functions to just four (communication, navigation, entertainment, and climate control). This third variant adds the function buttons, much like programmable PC function keys

NPR tested Voice Command on the BMWi 7 Series (ram). It needed a little work.

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