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Unintended Acceleration - Find the Cause

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,512
    Did they get this on video, and if so, is it available for public viewing? I'd think such data would be valuable to the market in general. In this day and age when anything can be recorded in numerous ways, data counts.

    I'm very leery of trials for such things when the people making the decision usually have zero knowledge of cars, driving, engineering, et al.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    I'm sure they got it on video, but almost certainly it's not for public viewing. Most of what came out of that clean room study of Toyota's (Denso's actually, I believe) software is under heavy wraps. Toyota/Denso is claiming IP rights and protection.

    Evidently, the courtroom in Oklahoma had to be emptied at times when testimony was going to cross certain lines. Even much of the publicly available testimony has been heavily redacted in some places to protect the guilty, and corny terms such as "Software Routine X" used in place of the real name, real variable names replaced with a generic VarY, that sort of stuff.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,788
    "Have you read some of the reports from the Oklahoma trial that Toyota lost? Some heavily redacted parts of the testimony by Michael Barr (who's company was one of the ones that examined the source code for the ECU in a highly secured clean room environment) state that they were able to duplicate a UAE event with a Camry running on a treadmill or dynamometer with a simple single bit-flip in one of the critical software routines. "

    I'm afraid I find your comment unclear. Are you saying the bit flipped due to software error, or they manually flipped the bit to cause the UAE? The first would be a major problem, the second simply a side note that the code is (correctly) not flipping the bit. But bits don't flip themselves, and if they observed that under debugging conditions, they could easily find out what happened - and issue a software fix. I have not read of any software fixes...
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    No. A bit flip caused by an external event - a soft error. They simulated such a event by manually flipping the bit.

    Bit flips are not all that uncommon given the small feature sizes of todays memories. The problem is that Toyota/Denso did not provide error detection and correction (EDC/ECC) on their memories or registers, even those holding critical variables. This is a no-no for safety critical applications, particularly when those techniques are widely known and employed in other areas.

    The bit-flip mentioned caused the software module/routine to die.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,419
    And causes the brakes to fail and the ignition to not shut off, all simultaneously?

    I'm all ears to hear how that happened.

    Have you all noticed that it isn't happening anymore? Now why is that?

    MODERATOR

  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    In my mind, this topic is approaching the level of the JFK probe.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    edited November 2013
    All of this came from EETimes.com - a trade newsletter for electrical and software engineers. You can probably go to that site, do a search for "Toyota" and you'll find hits to their articles on that case.

    Here's the one that discussed the dynamometer test of an '05 and '08 Camry.

    http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1319966

    And one of the more telling excerpts from that article:

    However, we have confirmed in other vehicle testing that I'll talk about later, that if the incident begins with the peddle, [sic] brake peddle [sic] pressed at all, even lightly then the unintended acceleration will continue, potentially, forever unless the driver tries the risky thing of letting go of the brake while the car is driving away with him.

    In this case, the driver has to do something counterintuitive - release the brake, then reapply it while the car is accelerating.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    edited November 2013
    In my mind, this topic is approaching the level of the JFK probe.

    I find it rather fascinating!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,419
    Still doesn't explain the brake *failure*. You can stop a car that has the pedal pressed all the way to the floor. It may not be pretty but you can do it.

    Nor does it explain the inability to shut off the ignition.

    MODERATOR

  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    The brake failure and inability to shut off the ignition are almost moot points now. The bottom line from a legal standpoint is that the testimony showed that there were flaws in the design of the ECU, and that those flaws could lead to unintended acceleration. Whether or not there are ways the UA condition could have have been ameliorated/worked around is almost beside the point.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    "The brake failure and inability to shut off the ignition are almost moot points now. The bottom line from a legal standpoint is that the testimony showed that there were flaws in the design of the ECU, and that those flaws could lead to unintended acceleration. Whether or not there are ways the UA condition could have have been ameliorated/worked around is almost beside the point."

    Well, if we're looking at it from a legal standpoint, by which I mean convincing non-technically oriented people of something, the question remains...

    Why did the UA incidents go away?

    Certainly the recall could have an impact, but no recall even gets close to 100% coverage of the recalled vehicles being repaired/modified. And, since we are talking about the possibility of hundreds of thousands of "potentially" affected vehicles still running around without any fix being applied, it seems to me that one would need a bit more proof to convince people on a jury that a real problem exists, or ever existed.

    Just because something "could" happen in no way means it "will", or "has" happened.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,013
    Did the UA incidents go away or just fall off the news cycle?

    Tesla Model S Involved In 'Unintended Acceleration Incident (autoblog.com - 9/25/13)

    Unintended acceleration is claimed in New York accident (consumeraffairs.com - 11/26/13)

    Oh, just got sidetracked - the tin whiskers theory lives on:

    Genesee County judge orders Toyota to turn over documents in fatal unintended acceleration crash case (mlive.com/)

    The Audi case lives on - this one isn't going anywhere fast either.

    Moderator
    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,419
    edited November 2013
    Well if I read everything correctly, the testimony proves no such thing--it proves the *potential* UA from a design defect (a "what if" scenario) but in fact, in reality, no critic has been able to just hop in a Toyota, not touch it or manipulate it, and make this actually happen.

    And it doesn't even touch on what level of competence we expect from a "driver" of a modern vehicle.

    Based on this "evidence", what prevents someone from suing a car company that built a car with a big blind spot, thereby "causing" the driver to have an accident?

    How To Spot a Conspiracy Theory:

    1. The "official story" from the suspected party is always a lie

    2. The alternative explanations, no matter how convoluted, are always more credible than the official story

    3. Any evidence that contradicts the alternative explanations are only proof of the depth and cleverness of the conspiracy.

    MODERATOR

  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    "Did the UA incidents go away or just fall off the news cycle? "

    I don't know if it makes much of a difference in the end.

    The legal system is all about opinion, and much less about the actual facts.

    Just ask anyone freed by the Innocence Project that were previously convicted because a small group of individuals found them "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt".

    We will all be long dead and gone before the final chapter is written on Toyota and UA.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,419
    Drivers should be able to know what to do in a UA incident. This should be a part of any basic training. There are people out there operating 1.5 tons of hurtling steel who probably could mess up a paperclip while trying to use it.

    MODERATOR

  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    "Drivers should be able to know what to do in a UA incident. This should be a part of any basic training. There are people out there operating 1.5 tons of hurtling steel who probably could mess up a paperclip while trying to use it."

    I completely agree.

    Who does history hold to blame for the Titanic sinking, the Captain or the shipbuilders?

    Most historians would place the blame squarely on Cap'n Smith's shoulders, even though there were (clearly by today's standards, anyway) "issues" with the ship's construction.

    IMO, it seems that some believe there will be a magical "Aha!" moment, at which time all facts will be revealed, clearly identifying Toyota (in this case, anyway) as knowingly negligent in manufacturing cars with UA an inevitability. Even if that were to happen, I can see them looking like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming 18-wheeler after it gets dragged through the US court system, wondering what happened...
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,512
    Brakes fail easily when you hit the gas pedal instead ;)

    Still curious to me that most of these incidents happened to older drivers in cars usually not aimed at those who are "with it", so to speak.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,850
    “The driver of the Lexus SUV was parking her vehicle when the vehicle accelerated over a parking barrier onto East Bidwell Street, then back toward the building,” said Andrew Bates, Folsom Police officer. “The car crashed through a side window and into the main area of the shop.”

    The driver and her passenger were not injured, but eight customers inside the store were hurt.

    Although the investigation is ongoing, there is no indication that impairment, age or cell phone usage was a factor in the crash.

    http://www.sacbee.com/2013/12/10/5989688/suv-crashes-into-starbucks-in.html
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,512
    edited December 2013
    Given the extreme situational awareness of Lexus SUV drivers, I am skeptical.

    "there is no indication that impairment, age or cell phone usage was a factor in the crash. "

    According to the badge carrying demographic, the Paul Walker/Roger Rodas death car was only going 40-45, too.

    The Lexus is also a first gen RX, no newer than 2003, if it matters.
  • When Rhonda Smith testified before congress about her runaway Lexus as it was going ~100mph, that she dialed up her husband on her cell phone and
    "God Intervened" to slow her car to ~35mph. Someone should have asked
    "What number did you dial? did it contain the digits 3 and 5?" no one did

    Cell phone frequency ranges of 800 MHz to 2100 MHz give a wave length of
    WL=Light Speed / Frequency, where W.L. varies from 14" at 800 Mhz to
    5.3" at 2100 MHz. Now an FM "T" antenna of half wave wire lengths will
    RECEIVE these RF signals. So any wire length of 7" protruding into cockpit
    will pick up 800 MHz, can we say CRUISE CONTROL lever, using turn signal

    So when Rhonda Smith dialed her phone she sent a digital signal thru the
    turn signal arm directly into the CPU for Cruise Control and it responded
    Why did gov't DOT NOT say anything? Last thing gov't needs is another
    car company to bail out, so better to say nothing, just like when they
    finally realized Tobacco fields were full of poisonous Arsenate of Leadd
    Just zip you lip and let tobacco plants suck up all the poison, hey, the
    stoopid smokers are gonna' die from Nicotine and Tar poison anyway so
    who cares?
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