Vehicle Location Data Could Be Tracked In the Future – Are You Ready?

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A recent driverless car server brought up some interesting points including the idea of tracking your vehicle’s usage. With all the technology going into new cars, this isn’t a far off idea.

Vehicle Location Data Could Be Tracked In the Future - Are You Ready?

This black box is already in your car, however, tracking it via data transmission could be used in the future. Good idea or bad?

Everybody knows that your driving habits are a big part of many automotive things. For example, you can get better fuel economy if you drive a certain way. Also, reckless driving can lead to receiving tickets and more accidents. But, what about transmitting that data?

A recent Harris Poll survey about driverless cars had some interesting responses to this and other questions.

The study, commissioned by Seapine Software, revealed that 88 percent of U.S. adults would be worried about riding in a driverless car. The survey was conducted among 2,039 adults ages 18 and older, also found that three-fourths (79 percent) of U.S. adults would worry that the equipment in a driverless car will fail, such as a braking software glitch or failed warning sensor that alerts the driver of danger.

The study also revealed the following concerns of U.S. adults would have about riding in driverless cars:

  • More than half (59 percent) are worried about liability issues, such as who would be responsible if a driverless car is involved in an accident.
  • 52 percent fear a hacker could breach the driverless car’s system and gain control of the vehicle.
  • More than one-third (37 percent) worry auto companies, insurers, advertisers and municipalities may collect personal data such as where the car goes and how fast it’s traveling.
  • Only 12 percent said they would not be worried about riding in a driverless car.

While the driverless car debate will undoubtedly go on, the part that got our attention was the collection of data. This data collection is already happening with/without driverless cars. In case you didn’t know, 96 percent of cars on the road have a “black box” according to NHTSA. These event data recorders collect data like:

  • Seat belt use
  • Speed
  • Steering
  • Braking

It wouldn’t take much for these event data recorders to transmit this information to your insurance company.

Besides insurance companies, the vehicle tracking data could be used by all sorts of people like private detectives, fleet managers, police, etc…

As one would expect, privacy advocates have been asking lots of questions about these black boxes. Their concerns are that there are currently no limits to what is collected and how it is used. With no limits, their concerns seem pretty valid.

What do you think? Is vehicle tracking data a good idea or fraught with problems?

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  1. Randy says:

    Here are the problems I have with this type of technology:

    Privacy and all areas related to privacy.

    Safety: Let’s face it advanced electronics are not even close to being fool proof. The failure of electrical components in vehicles today is quite common. Case in point the EPS on the F150; thousands of owners had either constant or intermittent snap, rattle, and pop in the steering assembly (electrically induced defects) that Ford has not been able to identify or resolve for many owners. Then there are those where full force power steering was over active on the hi-way which for many is not fixed. And then there is the “less 5 mph 90 degree right turns” with extreme over correcting torque steer – it would self-correct to center, you could not hold on to it while completing your turn. My wife was not able to hold on to the steering wheel, when it did that so she simple refused to drive the truck. Ford was never able to fix those defects and said “that was normal behavior of the EPS system”. Just the “thought” of having an EPS system that becomes “steering by wire” would element that vehicle from my buying choice. With the high volume of electrical defects I say “forget it”.

    Even the electronics in the 2014 Tundra are not the quality they should be; but so far it does not rise to the level of defects in the Ford.

    No way will I trust my life or my family’s life to the electronics in a car/truck. The quality is just not there and neither are current QC methods for current automotive production. In my opinion todays QC methods are not up to the task to address all the electronics being placed in vehicles now.

    So that brings full circle to the data collected and transmitted; no I do not trust that either. That is parallel to the current OBD-II technologies and emission controls. Even with new cars/trucks coming off the line today they can easily fail real emission standards and yet both Federal and State governments will give them a clean bill of health because the “on-board” computers say all is good…..even while black smoke is pouring out the tail pipe.

    I can see it now, the results after an accident: Me: “Officer I was holding the steering wheel straight ahead on this 30mph street and my car just sped up and made a full right turn and killed the pedestrian.” Officer: “You lied, the computer says you turned the steering wheel full right and floored it (because that is what the car actually did because of its computer control defects)……you’re going to jail, this is man slaughter plain and simple”.

  2. GoBig says:

    There are a couple of issues here. Totally automated cars is one thing, and tracking is quite another.

    The second is practically a moot point. Just about everyone carries a cell phone these days, and it is doing exactly that.

    It’s not hard for law enforcement to obtain cell phone tracking data to put you (or at least your phone) at the scene of a crime.

    Aviation went through the same growing pains some years ago. You may not realize as you sit in the back that the jet is being landed using the “auto-land” feature.

    We’re not just talking auto pilot in cruise, but a computer setting the jet back down on the center line of a runway.

    By the way, my ’85 Toy doesn’t even have power locks or windows much less a “black box.” Call me old school.

  3. stevj says:

    If your vehicle has airbags, it has an event data recorder. It is part of the airbag module. The module uses the vehicle speed, braking, etc. inputs when it makes the decision whether or not to deploy the bags.
    Why those data points are commited to onboard memory is beyond me – probably for lawsuit avoidance, and future use by insurance companies who seem always to be looking for a reason to deny a claim.


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