Can device decode SUAs?

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Can device decode SUAs?



Car crashes blamed on sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) accidents are notoriously hard to prove. It’s devilishly difficult to determine if the accident is the fault of the driver or a defect in the car.

A local research group claims to have a device that can determine the cause in a SUA-suspected accident.

Kim Pil-soo, head of the Vehicle Sudden Unintended Acceleration Research Group, said on Thursday that the group’s device can record 33 points of data preceding an accident, including whether the driver stepped on the gas pedal or the brake, the condition of the throttle valve and the driving speed.

The device uses signals coming from the on-board diagnostic II connector that is usually located below the dashboard. The OBD-II connector is a self-diagnostic and reporting system that has become mandatory for all cars produced since 2009.

“This device doesn’t need special technology because those who have knowledge in this field can easily develop it,” said Kim, who is an automotive engineering professor at Daelim University College. “I just can’t understand why the automakers haven’t developed this simple device yet.”

Kim said that event data recorders (EDR), which previously were used to identify SUAs, aren’t good enough because they only work when an airbag is deployed and doesn’t show which part of a car has a problem.

“The EDR only records information 10 to 15 seconds before an accident, but our device can store information for up to two days,” Kim said.

The group said that it will unveil the device’s design and engineering for free so that it can be supplied to every consumer. It will soon discuss with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to test the device’s capability.

“If the automakers’ responsibility for SUAs can be proved through this device, the impact would be immense in the auto industry,” said Kim.

“I think that two out 10 SUA-suspected accidents are from problems in a car and it’s not fair that consumers have the responsibility to prove SUAs.”

Local automakers have said the device isn’t that meaningful and emphasized that they are already concerned about SUAs.

“What is really important is to find why SUAs occur,” said a researcher from one local automaker. “The device has yet to be proven.”

According to data from the Transport Ministry, 417 car accidents in the last five years may have been caused by SUA. Hyundai Motor was implicated in 176 cases.


BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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