--Chris A. Chiufo, COTS Journal

Although intended for automotive engineers and crash investigators, the book contains myriad technical information directly applicable to defense engineers looking to adapt CAN techniques and embedded automobile electronics to high-rel military systems.

For example the Army has recently decided to outfit certain trucks and other vehicles with "black boxes" from Rymic Systems in an effort to collect in-vehicle data to predict maintenance. This closely parallels all contemporary automobiles, which are equipped with multiple Electronic Control Units (ECUs) networked via CAN that store and report Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs). The monograph goes into great detail about the conventions for ECUs, DTCs, and the typical types of on-board sensors--along with the network requirements for microprocessors, which on some vehicles number well over 50.

While the monograph's sections on crash dynamics, geometrics, and Newtonian physics are probably not applicable to most defense systems designers, strong parallels to future onboard military vehicle electronic diagnostics tools, as well as a comprehensive list of government (read: COTS) automotive standards. My favorite appendix: a detailed, technical comparison between automobile and aircraft black boxes, sensors, and parameters.

--Adam K. Aleksander, PhD, PE, CSP
Aleksander & Associates, P.A.

. . . Rosenbluth reveals the complexity of these systems in a classic reference work which will be the foundation for those to follow in his footsteps. He has managed to place in one reference virtually all known information on the subject, cutting across a myriad of conflicting standards, protocols, and seemingly deliberate obfuscation by both foreign and domestic manufacturers. This work leads the reader through the fundamentals of computer communications (using zero's and one's in a mathematical language), the applicable laws of physics, phenomena particular to vehicle motion (vehicle dynamics), and the microsecond by microsecond explosive deployment of air bags. All this information is pulled together in a series of exhaustive case examples, showing how conclusions can be drawn from the secret data stored on computer chips. Ultimately, the occupant in a vehicle collision will live or die based on these physical laws, and automotive computer system interactions.

To his credit, Rosenbluth has carefully avoided any reference to the litigation environment, and the attendant gladiatorial combat between the manufacturers, regulators, engineers, litigators and investigators. His focus is entirely on, and objectively limited to, the underlying technology, not on the partisan warfare which seems to characterize it's use.

. . . Anyone (academicians, engineers, attorneys, regulators) who wishes to join the ethical and privacy debate should educate themselves through this work. They will likely appreciate the completeness of this effort, including extensive glossaries, decryption of TLA's (three letter acronyms), and a very complete reference to standards and regulatory history.

Technical books often rely on illustrations to convey thematic complexity. Investigation and Interpretation of Black Box Data in Automobiles uses extensive (at times rough but adequate) illustrations to diagram and sequentially build up to very complex schemes. Detailed graphs amply document and explain the interactions of occupant movement, vehicle speeds and accelerations, air bag slap, and other data developed in the text. The reader is left with both a technical and intuitive understanding of the phenomena. The appendices may also be of interest to those in aerospace, who have never seen a detailed listing of DFDR (Digital Flight Data Recorder Requirements) for commercial aircraft, or for those aspiring engineers and investigators seeking a complete listing of scan tools and manufacturer contacts.

Rosenbluth's accomplishment is not limited to the assimilation and interpretation of all this information, but rather is notable for his ability to guide the reader as he peels away the layers of the secret witness that travels with us.

Albert T. Baxter, A.C.T.A.R.

There's a new publication out for those with a great interest in Collision Data Recorders. Titled Investigation and Interpretation of Black Box Data in Automobiles: A Guide to the Concepts & Formats of Computer Data in Vehicle Safety and Control Systems is a joint publication from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the Society of Automotive Engineers.This 162 page soft cover book was written by William Rosenbluth, an engineer who has worked for IBM and currently is the principal of Automotive Systems Analysis Inc. in Reston, Virginia.

Chapters include information regarding the background and evolut