Can designers anticipate how consumers will "hack" their product and then make sure the design is made to operate safely under those "hacked" conditions? Absolutely not!
It's ridiculous that Toyota should be held in any way liable for the consequenses of individual consumers actions to modify/retrofit/upgrade their OEM product.
I agree that a simple letter to customers, warning of this aftermarket risk, would be a sufficient response from Toyota (but not necessary).
What if I hacked my Camry headlights to include an aftermarket HID kit. Since the optical system was not designed to accommodate this particular filament size/shape/location/intensity, the headlamps now exceed legal limits for glare and as a result I cause or contribute to an accident leading to fatality. Toyota should get hit with a wrongful death and design negligence suit, right? Pure bollocks!
Think about what you just said. When you can't find a good reason for a decision someone or a company made it is usually due to a lie being covered up.
Just think what the consequences would have been if investigators found that the problem was electrical. By Toyota comming forth/agreeing and making the claim that the problem was/is floor mats they dodge a huge bullet.
Toyota diverted attention away from the real problem which is this rediculous drive-by-wire system that is controlled soley ny the computer/pcm/ecm. This is not isolated to just Toyota. My 2007 Charger had the same problem and they replaced the PCM to fix the problem. My friends Jeep did the same thing and they replaced the foot pedal assembly.
The real problem at hand is that here is no one doing these investigations that really understand how the system works. My car is an SRT8 and it has a digital read out of all the input and output sensors. I was able to record the throttle position sensor versus the foot pedal position sensor to show the dealership that there was nothing stuck on the foot pedal (foot pedal output sensor was reading ZERO).
The system is too complicated and there is too much that can go wrong.
Years ago , my GM vehicle with aftermarket floor mat jumped a curb after the mat slid underneath the gas pedal. Damage to my car exceeded $1000. Of course, I accepted full blame for this incident.
Unfortunately for manufacturers and consumers, today, some lawyers are all too happy to sue any deep-pockets corporation for not anticipating ANY and every modification by the aftermarket or owners of the vehicles. What this can mean is that the best/most cost effective/efficient designs must be scrapped for all-encompassing, overly expensive compromises.
Toyota was unfairly singled out when the most recent "unintended acceleration" frenzy went viral and that's a real shame as their designs are no more prone to safety-related failures than any other manufacturers.
An Engineer goes to the pearly gates of heaven and he is turned down. so he turns around and takes the sad journey to hell. When he gets there he realizes that this is not an enjoyable place so he puts his mind to good use and designs all the necessities. AC included.
Then one day God calls satan and asks "So how its going down there?" And satan responds "Great, we got an engineer and now we have all kinds of goodies, AC included."
God Screams with a loud booming voice" WHAT YOU GOT AN ENGINEER. SEND HIM UP HERE NOW"
satan laughs and says "Nop i like having an engineer in my crew"
Got says "Send him up here or i will sue,"
satan starts laughing endlessly!!! after a few minutes of laughter he finally stops and asks God "And where will you find a lawyer?"
Engineers - design and manufacturing - are supposed to use a generally accepted tool to anticipate and prevent consumer problems such as the floor mat issue. That tool is the FMEA - Failure Mode and Effects Analysis. It's been around for almost 30 years.
Unfortunately from my experience it's not used properly.
It's supposed to be created by a committee of all affected engineers, however in practice it's assigned to each engineer who creates it for their component or system only.
It's supposed to be written from the user's/consumer's viewpoint, however it rarely is, as it's viewed from the engineer's narrow focus.
It's supposed to encompass the entire vehicle as a synergistic machine, however it never is - rarely including mating systems or assemblies.
There is no oversight or management of this document. In addition, with cost cutting, getting rid of senior level experienced engineers and contracting engineers who have no ownership of the product, we are seeing more and more recalls and failures for issues that were resolved many years ago - we're seeing 'reinventing the wheel' of all these problems.
Toyota had an engineering discipline of recording a checklist for each design engineer that management oversaw during the design phase. Apparently that is no longer being followed.
I understand the procedure. I follow along the same lines when it comes to design. I dont see the pattern. I know a very large group of drivers. And yes we have talked about this the last few years. And no non of us new some one that had this failure. The only reason this ever got public was due to paranoia and news. Chevy is not doing so well so lets make public all the recalls that toyota has. Simple politics.
However at some point you have to make a distinction of what options you wish to include and what options not to include in the name of cost cutting.
And your customer should have the option of selecting which they can or cant use.
I have to agree that "idiot-proofing" has to be high on the list of aggravating-but-necessary engineering responsibilities. The simultaneous-throttle/brake-press interlock, disabling the throttle, seems like a good approximation of a reply to the issue -- except I can visualize a situation where a wad of floormat holding down the accelerator over HERE could be blocking the brake pedal from being pushed over THERE. In reality, I suspect the only solution is going to involve some kind of circuit to detect a "Foot" is actually present. Which is possible, just a colossal pain.
ervin, while I fundamentally agree that the effort to make things idiot proof is futility, I don't put this completely in the category of "idiot proofing". If I designed something, and later observed the same failure mode over and over, I would react to that situation with a design that attempts to eliminate that failure mode. If I didn't, it would be difficult to tell who the real idiot was.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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