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Doesn’t Like Air Bag Logging Story

Two photos in the article Logging Your Every Driving Moment showing the Vetronix system and the airbag control module against the black background are ours and we hold the copyright to those photos. Where did you get them and who do you contend gave you authority to use them?

We welcome accurate exposure of the technology, the article you've published is filled with slanted misinformation at best. 

Examples include:

The passage: "If in a moment of inattention you collide with the back of another car, you won’t be able to say that you were braking hard – not if the electronic record shows that in fact you never even started to slow until the time of impact."  In fact, IF they were braking hard, they still could relay that fact or are you suggesting one driver being disallowed the opportunity to distort the truth is somehow better than another driver benefiting from that truth?  Arguably, another way to have written that might have been along the lines of "so a driver runs into your back end, the data from his car would help make clear his carelessness, his speed about the time of impact and the fact that he didn't even brake when he rearended you."  Or would you prefer he be allowed to say you braked unreasonably and suddenly and YOU were the cause of the crash?

You write: "Convicted by your car? – it’s more than just a possibility, with one such case having already occurred in the US. There a driver involved in a double fatality claimed he had been travelling at about 100 km/h. But the electronic record showed that in fact the speed of the car five seconds before impact was 184 km/h..."  For starters, no one is "convicted by their car," if they drive irresponsibly, crash and are criminally charged, they re convicted based on tire marks, bent metal, eyewitness accounts and additionally the data...all facts leading to demonstrate their responsibility. I have personally been involved in 15 criminal and civil cases across the US relating specifically to this technology. In each case, there was other "traditional crash evidence" developed as well.

And in the instance you note, the name of that case is Florida v Matos and Mr Matos ADMITTED to driving almost double the speed limit (at least 30km/h over the speed limit).  His own "expert" calculated his speed at double the limit and a bit more.  The investigating police conservatively calculated his speed at more than triple the speed limit and the crash data objectively showed it just a little higher than that.  He drove irresponsibly, it wasn't the "data" or his "car" that put him in jail, it was his behaviour and the fact that that behaviour cost two other people their lives.  Or would it be better he could lie about it and get away free and clear?

Your article is factually incorrect asserting that General Motors is not the only company embracing the technology.  Ford and Daimler Chrysler vehicles are among others similarly working with Vetronix to make the crash data available and it won't be long before you see crash data from Australian cars.  Remember, Holden is part of GM.

Your article refers to "near deployment" events.  That name was changed nearly 3 years ago to the more accurate "non-deployment."  Where your article refers to system "wakeup"  in the passage "(ie enabling of the algorithm which requires two consecutive acceleration samples of over 2g)" that is incorrect, the wakeup threshold is lower.  The passage "Most EDRs record speed only in a longitudinal direction. Many accidents involve lateral and as well longitudinal movement, and so the speed recording may give a false impression of the events that occurred. No current Original Equipment EDRs are known to record vertical accelerations" is incorrect. Assuming you meant "lateral" not actually vertical which would be meaningless in a crash situation (no, rollovers are not vertical, they are angular or rotational) some Ford and many GM units DO record lateral acceleration. Some GM units also record some rollover data.

You offer: "The use of only five data points for each of the parameters of speed, rpm, throttle opening and brake status can give a false impression that the behaviour of these parameters can be validly shown by a graph with these points connected by a straight line – but of course these data might have been behaving quite differently between the discrete points." Again, apparently using an out-of-date reference, there IS no such graph as such currently developed by the CDR system reporting function.  The data table remains but the graph has been removed from the formatted report.

And while there remain other factual and technical inaccuracies, the entry "The storage and retrieval of EDR data must protect the privacy rights of the individual in accordance with law" bears addressing.  There is simply NO privacy issue here.  By any measure, US, Canadian or Australian, privacy extends to the individual for information that would otherwise BE private by virtue of its source of nature.  Your banking information, your name and date of birth, your home number may be private information. What you are doing in your car on a public road, in plain view where you have no expectation of privacy and where NO part of the data retrieved from a car identifies you or any individual by name or in any other way for that matter is simply not "an invasion of privacy."

We’d prefer not to have our intellectual property associated with intellectual dishonesty.  Please remove the photos from your article forthwith.

William Haight
Director, Collision Safety Institute

Checking Speedos

With reference to the Speedo Corrector article, 'Speedo Check' markings along some highways can in fact be used to calibrate a speedo.  Consider this:  At 100km/h, 100km = 60mins so 1km = 0.6mins.  For km/h speeds, all you need to know to work out the time for any distance is the 6-times tables.  For the standard length of 5km, 5 *.6 = 3 minutes.  I have found the distance marking posts along the side of the main highway near me to be useful as well, since you can time for a longer distance and achieve greater accuracy.  ie. 12km = 12 * 0.6 = 7.2 minutes = 7 minutes, 12 seconds.  Its even easier for m/h as 60m/h = 1mile/minute.

The usual scenario is this:  Set your cruise control at 100 km/h, and time 5km.  If you make the distance in under 3 minutes, you're going too fast.  Simple and accurate.

My experience with speedos reading too fast is the same as stated in the article.  I have never been in a car with factory tyres, diff and gerabox and found the speedo to read under, so there really is no excuse for being a leadfoot if you set your speed by the dial.


Chrysler Turbine Car 1

Guys?  How can you leave us in suspense like that? Where's your expert critique on the technology and why it isn't being used (in cars) today?  Where's the reference to record-breaking offshore race boats or Chinook helicopters which use gas turbines, and your thoughts on allying this technology (ideally suited to constant speed applications) with modern hybrid thinking like GMs 'when-the-batteries-are-ready' Volt - which aims to use a small engine to recharge the batteries - but with a turbine and battery pack, not a piston engine (or like a full-hybrid diesel loco). Come on guys - Follow up article please!

Luke Konynenburg

It’s on the list of ‘to-do’ articles.

Chrysler Turbine Car 2

Nice article about the Chrysler Turbine Car. I've often wondered why nobody has tried a hybrid (Prius style) design - replacing the piston motor with a (lighter and simpler) gas turbine. With the battery powered electric boost you wouldn't have to worry about the relatively slow spool up of the gas turbine.

Phillip Spencer

We agree!

Chrysler Turbine Car 3

I just read the Chrysler turbine car article and thought I'd mention that you can actually experience a running example of this engine at the Swinburne University Engineering lab (I presume it is still there and running).  Mechanical Engineering students who studied at Swinburne have probably done pracs using this engine on an engine dyno (I did) - the starting sequence and sound is one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced (make sure you've got your ear muffs).

One thing the article should have mentioned is that the engine uses an epicyclic reduction gear set before it is connected to the auto transmission - you wouldn't want to spin the auto input shaft at 45k rpm!

Peter Bodon

HPV Springs

Re Another Human Powered Vehicle Part 1 - Finding the Lightest Springs. Re Polycarbonate torsion bars.  One way to decrease the angel of twist on a torsion bar is to extend the length of the control arm. What if the fulcrum was mounted on the opposite side of the vehicle? – providing maximum control arm length. I’ve often wondered why more manufactures don’t do this. Of cause it means having to get tricky the packaging arms and location points. I noticed some late model fwd Volvos do so at the rear with long alloy arms and coils.

Matt King

That makes thing worse because the torsion is twice as high...

Left Foot Braking

Why aren’t automatics set up for left foot braking?

After years of sore thighs and displaced hips, I have to ask the question why aren’t automatic cars set up for left foot braking? How about an extra wide pedal, or a second pedal set lower next to the foot rest? Maybe AutoSpeed could cajole a manufacturer to come up with a kit for a popular car (Falcadore?) and test it?

In my Falcon I have to lift my leg and move it across to an uncomfortable position. And because I can’t let it rest on the pedal, I have to hold it clear, causing muscle strain. How I long for a brake pedal at the same height as the left foot rest and about a centimetre away. And no, I am not a wuss; my old X1/9 with the hydraulic clutch was way heavy, but didn’t cause any of these problems because the pedal was correctly lined up with my leg.

Any advanced driving expert will tell you left foot braking in an automatic is a no-brainer. Just the reaction time saving from not having to lift your foot off the accelerator and move it across to the brake is significant. When I’m driving down my suburban road warily watching the kids playing footy in their front yard, I feel much better having the left foot poised and ready.

And in these days of ABS, if you panic and put both feet on the brake, it doesn’t matter! The only downside is that I have been run up the arse cos my reaction time was so fast when the knucklehead in front of me jumped on the brakes on the yellow light, the other knucklehead behind couldn’t stop in time.

Anyway, I would really like an article on braking techniques in AutoSpeed to finish off your braking improvement string of stories.

Donal Storey

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