Automotive Alphabet Soup

Event Data Recorder

Leslie E. Lovre, Technical Assistant ::::
Investigating or litigating automotive claims cases, which include the collection and analysis of on-board vehicle data can be a confusing venture owing to the variety of data sources from within the vehicle, and the names that people use to describe those sources. For example, Ford calls its device that controls airbag deployment the RCM – Restraint Control Module – while Chrysler calls their functionally equivalent device the ORC – Occupant Restraint Control. Multiply this difference over the dozens of different automobile manufacturers and the problem is quickly apparent. However, understanding a few basic rules and commonalities should help sort through the “alphabet soup” of automotive forensic technology.
One of the most discussed elements of a forensic investigation relates to the on-board event data recorder (EDR). Thus, EDR becomes the first and perhaps most important acronym. Nearly all modern vehicles are equipped with an EDR; that is the easy part. Where it becomes confusing is identifying the source of that data. Alluded to earlier, the airbag system is the source of much of the event-related data, particularly in passenger vehicles. While it is technically correct, and at times helpful to refer to Chrysler’s ORC or Ford’s RCM, it may be easier, yet just as correct, to refer to any manufacturer’s airbag control module as just that – the ACM. Continue reading “Automotive Alphabet Soup”