Jeremy Daily, Andrew Kongs, James Johnson, Jose Corcega
The University of Tulsa
The proper investigation of crashes involving commercial vehicles is critical for fairly assessing liability and damages, if they exist. In addition to traditional physics based approaches, the digital records stored within heavy vehicle electronic control modules (ECMs) are useful in determining the events leading to a crash. Traditional methods of extracting digital data use proprietary diagnostic and maintenance software and require a functioning ECM. However, some crashes induce damage that renders the ECM inoperable, even though it may still contain data. As such, the objective of this research is to examine the digital record in an ECM and understand its meaning. The research was performed on a Detroit Diesel DDEC V engine control module. The data extracted from the flash memory chips include: Last Stop Record, two Hard Brake events, and the Daily Engine Usage Log. The procedure of extracting and reading the memory chips is explained. Details regarding decoding the memory contents to determine meaning are given for the aforementioned datasets. This research revealed higher fidelity data in memory for the Daily Engine Usage Log when compared to the DDEC Reports output. Should an ECM be inoperable, the techniques presented can help investigators extract previously unobtainable information.
SAE Presentation Slides On Chip Level Forensics