No electronic bugs behind Toyota sticky pedals

Bad car design, not faulty software, caused Toyota's unintended acceleration problem

After 10 months of study and the assistance of NASA engineers, the U.S. Department of Transportation has concluded that the unintended acceleration that plagued some Toyota automobiles was not caused by faulty electronic components or software.

Instead, the problems seemingly were caused either by sticky pedals or by a faulty design where the pedals could be caught on badly fitted floor mats, concludes a report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the DOT agency that undertook the study at the behest of Congress.

After a series of highly publicized and sometimes deadly accidents, Toyota recalled nearly 8 million vehicles between 2009 and 2010 that could potentially suffer from the problem of accelerating rapidly and beyond the driver's control. While Toyota and the NHTSA initially blamed bad accelerator design and badly placed floor mats for the incidents, members of Congress, in a series of hearings, grilled both Toyota and NHTSA executives over the possibility that the failures could have been caused by electronics interference, badly designed electronics or bad supporting software code.

As part of the study, NASA engineers analyzed more than 280,000 lines of code that manage Toyota's electronic braking system; they also examined the underlying electronic circuitry. They looked for bugs or other potential flaws that could lead to unintended throttle opening.

"NASA found no evidence that a malfunction in electronics caused large unintended accelerations," said Michael Kirsch, principal engineer at the NASA Engineering and Safety Center, in a statement.

In a second test, another group of NASA and NHTSA researchers subjected vehicles' braking systems to large amounts of electromagnetic radiation, in order to test another widely circulated hypotheses that the malfunctions occurred due to electronic interference. They found that the braking systems were immune from such interference, however.

Despite the fact that electronic components were not to blame, the NHTSA plans to underwrite more research work on "the reliability and security of electronic control systems," the agency stated in an announcement of the study.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Toyota Motor Co.Automotiveregulationindustry verticalsgovernment

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?