Print 54 comment(s) - last by lyeoh.. on Mar 31 at 12:50 PM

The tail of a comet is not suspected to be the cause of unintended acceleration

Toyota has been hit hard with widespread issues with its Prius and other cars that have suffered from glitches with brakes or unintended acceleration. Toyota was forced to recall a large number of its vehicles to install new parts to prevent wear of the throttle pedal that was the cause of some of the issues.

The last headline-making bout of unintended acceleration happened in early March when police in California had to help a motorist who was reportedly unable to stop his Prius from accelerating. reports that the U.S. Transportation Department has announced that it intends to launch a pair of major investigations that will seek to determine if vehicle electronics or electromagnetic interference are to blame for unintended vehicle acceleration incidents that have been rampant recently.

The investigations will be headed by the National Academy of Sciences and the other will be run by NASA. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the investigations will not focus on Toyota alone and will focus on all manufacturers. So far, Toyota is the most affected of the automakers and the recall to fix issues with floor mats and throttle pedals has covered 8.5 million of the automakers vehicles so far.

Since 2000, a total of 3,000 complaints including 51 deaths have been linked to Toyota vehicles that failed to stop accelerating. Toyota maintains that EMI and electronics are not the cause of the issue and that trapped or malfunctioning pedals are the cause.

"Many members of Congress think it's electronics and I heard enough of that -- not only from members but from Toyota drivers ... and so we felt we really needed to get outside experts," LaHood said. "We are tapping the best minds around." 

Toyota added, "We expect they will bring a thorough and scientific approach to their examination of the issues. Separating fact from fiction can only be good for the motoring public and the industry as a whole. We are confident in our vehicles and in our electronics. We will lend our full support and cooperation to DOT and NHTSA as they moved forward."

The investigations will reportedly last 15 months and will seek to find and address any safety issues with any vehicle on the road today in America. All possible causes for unintended vehicle acceleration will reportedly be investigated including electronics, human error, mechanical failure, and interference with accelerator systems.

According to LaHood, the department will spend $3 million on the two studies including the cost of buying cars that have allegedly suffered from unintended acceleration. The NHTSA has brought in engineers and other experts for the investigations on topics such as electromagnetic compatibility among others in an attempt to determine if flaws in vehicles on the road warrant a defect investigation. The review of the Toyota electronic throttle control system is expected to be completed by late summer reports the NHTSA.

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Over Kill
By mlmiller1 on 3/30/2010 11:26:07 AM , Rating: 0
A shotgun for a fly? Do we really need NASA engineers to figure out why the floor mat makes the gas pedal stay down?

RE: Over Kill
By Motoman on 3/30/2010 11:42:06 AM , Rating: 3
Congratulations on your ability to comment on an article that you haven't read.

I suspect that you are unable to make basic differentiations between different types of items. Strangely, you seem to be able to tell the difference between your keyboard and, say, coffee cake - or else you wouldn't be able to post.

For the record, a floor mat is not an electrical device at all - let alone a drive-by-wire computer meant to translate the driver's mechanical actions with analog controls into digital instructions telling brakes, fuel injectors, etc. what to do.

...hope that helps.

RE: Over Kill
By rvd2008 on 3/30/10, Rating: 0
RE: Over Kill
By Scabies on 3/30/2010 12:18:04 PM , Rating: 3
I have to side with miller here. America(n companies) really seem to be grasping at straws to find something horribly wrong about Toyota vehicles. Lucky that domestic vehicles are generally flawless and 100% reliable *sarcasm*
and sell better *more sarcasm*

coming up: Toyota assessed an "extra-terrestrial interference tax" for the hell of it.

RE: Over Kill
By rvd2008 on 3/30/2010 12:49:43 PM , Rating: 1
America(n companies) really seem to be grasping at straws to find something horribly wrong about Toyota vehicles

While I agree Toyota lynching is probably a factor here I doubt American car makers have a hand in it. Simply because it may backfire dearly at them, so they keep their mouth shut.

On the other hand, IMHO there are plenty of legitimate reasons to investigate Toyota. I also think Toyota tried to cover it up and that should be investigated as well.

RE: Over Kill
By TerranMagistrate on 3/30/2010 5:00:13 PM , Rating: 2
While I agree Toyota lynching is probably a factor here I doubt American car makers have a hand in it.

Here's a bit of news for you: General Motors is primarily owned by the U.S. government.

RE: Over Kill
By sjlee33 on 3/30/2010 12:31:36 PM , Rating: 2
Seems to me that automakers other than Toyota are affected. It just happens that Toyota has a lot more press (I'm sure there are a lot of reasons for that benign or not). That said, it seems like any car with electronic throttle systems are potentially at risk so why not ask some NASA engineers to look at the problem? I'm sure they have a lot of expertise in troubleshooting electronics and I'm guessing there are more than a few looking for a job with the shuttle shutting down.

RE: Over Kill
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 3/30/2010 1:08:37 PM , Rating: 2
It details basic information about throttle position, speed, brake position, yaw, roll, etc moments prior to collision - since it only keeps track of a minutes worth of data at a time on a loop, and data is deleted off the back of the loop.

Basically, it is in the nature of do you have a reasonable expectation of privacy (RXP) in that data? If you do, then the government can't sieze it without a warrant. But if they have one, they can sieze it. So it prevents you from contradicting the information in the data when you say you were only going 25 mph in the school zone and had locked up your brakes when you creamed those kids, when the data says you were doing 80 and never touched the brakes till you hit the tree. That sort of thing. In this case, even though you have an RXP in the data, the state can still get a warrant if it can articulate probable cause (your car is totalled against the tree and you were the only vehicle involved), in which case, you lose unless you can make an argument that the data was improperly gathered, interpreted or stored. This data is also salient if you blame the car manufacturer for faulty brakes.

In other words, it is harder to lie when you screw up.

RE: Over Kill
By porkpie on 3/30/2010 1:22:06 PM , Rating: 2
Yaw and roll? It's not an airliner black box. A car's event data recorder captures speed, brake and throttle position, seat belt and airbag status, etc...but it does't include a three-axis accelerometer.

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