TRL develops eCall test procedures ahead of 2018 deadline

12.00 | 13 November 2015 | | 5 comments

The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), has developed new test procedures for the European type-approval of eCall in-vehicle systems.

The eCall system installs a device in vehicles that will automatically alert emergency services in the event of a serious road accident.

Following legislation from the European Parliament and EU member states, eCall will become mandatory across Europe from 2018 in a move to reduce the time it takes for the emergency services to reach casualties, thereby improving survival chances.

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) points to research which shows that with eCall, emergency service response time will be cut by around 50% in rural areas and 40% in urban areas. And a German study, "STORM" (Stuttgart Transport Operation by Regional Management), showed almost 50% rescue time improvement in rural areas, with a net gain of around 10 minutes.

The system works by wirelessly sending airbag deployment and impact sensor information, as well as GPS coordinates, to local emergency agencies.

The TRL draft proposals, which were developed for the European Commission, provide recommendations on the safety requirements for eCall systems and aim to ensure that sub-standard system designs, which could jeopardise the safety of road users, will not be allowed onto the European market.

Matthias Seidl, senior vehicle safety researcher at TRL, said: “Our in-house test sled allows us to simulate collisions with peak decelerations considerably higher than most current vehicle tests. These high levels are necessary to ensure that eCall systems are still able to make an emergency call, even after a severe crash.”

“The results can be used to help shape the technical discussions at an international level in order to ensure that the same level of protection is provided to road users around the world. In fact, the suggested European standards have also been proposed to the United Nations working group on automatic emergency call systems.”


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    The e-call specification calls for bi-directional communications so that vehicle manufacturers can remotely communicate with the vehicle to update vehicle settings or software applications. This handy gateway provides all sorts of additional ‘benefits’ as illustrated in just one of the many documents on the subject.

    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident.
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    Thanks, Nick. My response was primarily to Dave’s suggestion of a kill-switch etc – as dangerous as ISA taking control of throttle and/or brakes on a motorcycle (though I believe that has now been abandoned).

    However I have read in recent years, at least as suggestions, that Big Brother might consider controlling all vehicles in terms of journeys, speeds, acceleration, days of the week to be used etc etc. I do not remember any detail, only that like so many other threats to our liberties, they have been suggested.

    My other reference to how hackers might intercept or block elinks were based not only on reading now frequent reports of hacking of bank and private data but on reading an new book, bought at Bletchley Park the other day, about what authorised and unauthorised hackers can now do. It is all terrifying.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    Please can you point me towards the information regarding remote operators being able to interfere with cars. I was not able to see reference to that possibility within this article. I have not, however, had chance to read through all the links in the article so may be missing something there? Thanks.

    Nick, Lancashire
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    Given what hackers are able to do in relation to cash machines and banking data, I suspect that few car thieves, terrorists, drug dealers or even drunks when sober, would have any problems disabling the e-link. In any case, I am not in the least keen on someone at a desk 50 miles away being able to stop the engine or apply the brakes of the car in front of me. Reporting crashes – great. Allowing remote operators to interfere with the cars – madness.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    The eCall system within each vehicle includes:
    1) a GPS tracking device
    2) a data link to the authorities (both directions)
    3) a microphone and other sensors

    The eCall system will provide the authorities with the possibility to enforce all sorts of laws that currently are difficult or even impossible to enforce. Just add an engine-kill to Ecall and citizens can not only be monitored but, if suspected of any offence, they can be stopped immediately (eg stolen cars, terrorists, drug dealers, drunk drivers etc).

    The eCall system may be the most powerful surveillance tool yet devised and it really is capable of saving lives.

    Dave Finney, Slough
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