In order to place a professional electronics product inside a car or other vehicle moving in traffic, it has to be put through mandatory type approval, a test carried out by a neutral 3rd party test house which checks if your product conforms to elector-magnetic compatibility (EMC) requirements. The car (part) manufacturer would get a test report as proof of compliance. This is regulated pretty well world-wide by something called "UN ECE R10", a UN directive which is in turn widely adopted by many countries around the world (but apparently not by the USA).
Now since I work in electronics and is a regular user of for example electronics.stackexchange.com, I often encounter questions where someone is asking how to go about to place "hobbyist" electronics boards (Arduino, Rasp Pi etc) in cars or other vehicles. These are clearly not type approved and in addition are quite unlikely to fulfill the somewhat tough EMC requirements laid out by ECE R10 technical standards, since these are tougher than regular requirements on commercial electronics. And so these hobbyist projects always come with a risk of affecting other parts on the car, even if the hobbyist board itself isn't directly involved with a safety-critical function.
I would imagine that the situation is similar to someone modifying a vehicle to put their own home-made brakes in it. If these fail, then regular vehicle inspection would easily recognize this and require that you (the owner of the car) fix it. Except for electronics, the vehicle inspection or the police won't be able to tell the cause on-site - suppose the hobbyist board disrupts the ABS electronic brake system for example. They can tell that the brakes aren't working/failed but not why.
I am wondering what the legal consequences are for putting hobbyist boards in a car without going through type approval. Often it is someone modding their own car or motorcycle: I'm asking for scenarios where the modification has been carried out by an individual, not by a company who has put a product on market. Suppose we narrow it down to a few scenarios - will there be legal consequences in the following situations:
- The authorities find out about the non-approved electronics "preemptively". No accident has occurred but the device poses a risk.
- There was a serious accident (death or injury) caused by failing electronics on the car, but not obviously related to the hobbyist board. Suppose the ABS brake system failed but the hobbyist board is controlling the tail lights in the other side of the car.
- There was a serious accident (death or injury) caused by failing electronics and the hobbyist board is found to be the direct cause. Suppose for example that the hobbyist board jammed critical CAN bus communication on board, so that the wheel no longer responds. And that this can be proven by recorded logs.
I'm also interested to know if there any examples of similar or even precedent cases? Mainly interested in EU and/or US. I'm aware of various famous lawsuits in the US where software or electronics have caused car accidents, but there the defendant has always been the car manufacturer and not individuals who have modded their own car.