To put a stop to complaints that only Toyota has access to data from black-box crash recorders in its vehicles, hundreds of data-decoding machines have been shipped to the US. These event data recorders, which will help diagnose vehicle problems, will be made commercially available later on. These machines are actually similar to the black boxes on airliners.
They record information such as vehicle and engine speed in the seconds before a crash. Toyota is currently under fire over the recalls due to unintended acceleration and the deaths associated with them.
Toyota got even more flak from lawmakers and the representatives of the crash victims because its black-box data are encoded. Only Toyota's proprietary reader machines can crack the code and the problem is that in the US, Toyota only has one device.
Yoshimi Inaba, head of Toyota's North American operations, confronted the members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and said that by the end of April, the US will receive hundreds of units of them available.
Inaba said further that these machines will be commercially available by 2011, about a year before a federal rule requires that data from boxes can be downloaded and read by car owners. Last week, Toyota President Akio Toyoda had pointed to utilizing black-box data as a key change, which would find the cause of a crash or malfunction more quickly.