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Japan uses Taiwanese technology to read damaged GPS chips

2010/12/28 22:31:35

Taipei, Dec. 28 (CNA) Taiwan has developed a technology toretrieve information from damaged chips in the global positioningsystems (GPS) used by helicopters and other vehicles, which has beenprovided to Japan, the Council for Aviation Safety (CAS) saidTuesday.

Kuan Wen-lin, CAS laboratory director, briefed the media on theuse of the technology, noting that Japan's Transportation SafetyBoard (JTSB) sought the council's help in September to help determinethe cause of a helicopter crash.

The council used the technology to read the information in theJapanese helicopter's GPS and discovered that it was caught in aheavy fog and crashed into a mountain, Kuan said.

Chip makers usually are unable to retrieve information from chipsthat have been burned, soaked or broken in an accident. Chang's lab,however, uses reverse engineering to "rebuild" the data on thedamaged chips.

In cooperation with GPS manufacturers, the lab last year designeda device that can "read" the retrieved data, he noted.

Kuan presented a paper on the lab's research and the new deviceat an international meeting of aviation accident investigatorsearlier this year, winning an award for best paper.

The device was first used to help investigate an accident inChiayi, southern Taiwan, in May last year. In August, 2009, thedevice was again used to read information from a damaged GPS aboard ahelicopter on a rescue mission after a typhoon.

Most helicopters and super-light aircraft are not equipped withthe "black boxes" -- flight data recorders -- that are installed onlarger aircraft, but instead have GPS, which records flight times,positions, directions and velocities, which can be used to helpdetermine the causes of an accident.

(By Wang Shu-fen and S.C. Chang)