Robert S. Kinder, Jr., MS, Mechanical Engineer ::::
Over time the number of electronic devices and features in motorized vehicles has generally increased, some of which can record diagnostic or personal information. Most automobiles manufactured today are equipped with (EDR) capable of storing retrievable data including vehicle speed, braking, and other parameters. More recently, cars are not the only vehicles storing data. Newer Side-by-Side (SSV) off-road vehicles and watercrafts have Engine Control Modules (ECM). These electronic devices are responsible for keeping the engine running smoothly. To complete that task, the devices monitor data from various sensors and systems. When a problem is identified, the ECM can log diagnostic fault codes. In addition to fault codes, some ECMs can record up to 60 seconds of data including vehicle speeds. Using diagnostic tools, ECM data can be retrieved to provide insight as to how fast a watercraft or SSV was traveling during the last approximate one minute of usage or its past and current diagnostic condition.
The availability of recoverable diagnostic and historical data is expanding to personal watercrafts and vehicles from select manufacturers such as Sea-Doo and Can-Am. For approximately twenty years, forensic engineers and investigators have utilized similar electronic data as part of their collision reconstruction or incident analysis. In the event of a component failure or a product defect, valid data may reside in an onboard device ready to be extracted and analyzed.
Robert S. Kinder, Jr., MS, Mechanical Engineer at DJS Associates, can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.