Vehicle System Forensics

Today’s technology-driven world has crossed over from desktops, laptops, and mobile devices into our vehicles. And because of this, data from navigation, communication, and entertainment systems can all be downloaded.  

Using advanced, specialized software, our experts can extract and analyze information including telematics, infotainment systems, and even GPS. This data can be used in several different ways, but most commonly for: 

  • Accident reconstruction 
  • Criminal or civil case resolution 
  • Vehicle fleet management 

Infotainment Investigation 

Many people are familiar with Event Data Recorders (EDR) (Link to our EDR page) in vehicles that record engineering data, which can be useful when investigating a traffic incident. However, information taken from the In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) system in the vehicle can sometimes provide an even more thorough and comprehensive picture of an incident. A vehicle’s IVI is the actual screen in the center console that a user interfaces with, usually through a touchscreen, to select music, call, text, utilize applications, or navigate. While many forensic engineering companies can analyze EDR systems, the number of companies analyzing IVI systems could likely be listed on one hand. It is a completely different skill set. 

The information contained in the IVI system includes communication and telematics data such as navigation history, social media feeds, emails, text messages, Bluetooth connections, gear indicators, whether the vehicle’s lights were on and off, if the driver was turning volume or knobs, opening a window, locking or unlocking doors, and more.    

Telematics Investigation 

Telematics most often refers to navigation systems, the system that interacts with the world outside the vehicle. Motor vehicles today are equipped with this technology, especially fleet management, and they use cell phones, GPS, and tracking systems along with satellite signals to pinpoint a vehicle’s location. This technology alone has radically changed the trucking industry. It typically falls into three categories: hand-held devices, integrated devices like GPS and tracking software, and safety technology such as crash notifications. Many of which, have come up in numerous distracted driving cases. 

Data collected from telematics may include: 

  • Destinations 
  • Trackpoints (recorded vehicle travel history) 
  • Saved travel routes 
  • Velocity logs 
  • Doors opened 
  • Parking lights (on or off) 
  • Odometer readings 
  • Power events 

Equipping vehicles with telematic equipment is exceptionally common in today’s world and can assist with customer service, technical support and more. But they also pose a number of risks. Our experts are experienced in using dedicated iVe software to pull data quickly and accurately for use in civil and criminal cases.   

The Tie to Cell Phone Forensics 

Imagine a scenario where a phone was critical to a case, but it’s been lost, or the data has been wiped. Even if there are no cloud backups of the phone, and the phone was never backed up to a computer, there is still one place to look for the data--the car.  When a user syncs a cell phone to a vehicle it copies over contact lists, messages, emails, chat apps, and more depending on the vehicle and model of phone.   

Traffic Accidents and Distracted Driving Support 

Data found in a vehicle’s IVI can be critical for a human factors expert to determine if a driver was distracted. For instance, was the driver selecting music, using the steering wheel controls, or on the touchscreen at the time of an accident? Was he reaching over to turn the tuning knob? Any of this information could make or break a case.