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Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
A software glitch after all
Rob Spiegel   11/8/2013 8:39:53 AM
NO RATINGS
Nice story, Chuck. Perhaps the most telling line comes at the very end: "Toyota could have done this (implement a brake-throttle override system) in 2002 without any extra cost to the vehicle." 

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Re: A software glitch after all
tekochip   11/8/2013 9:47:09 AM
NO RATINGS
If they made the change a jury could have seen this as demonstrating culpability, suggesting that the change was made because Toyota was aware of a system flaw.  Unfortunately, not fixing known flaws is a common theme because of litigation fears.


TJ McDermott
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Blogger
For the plaintiff ... (but) designated by the court
TJ McDermott   11/8/2013 9:56:56 AM
NO RATINGS
Doesn't that seem contradictory?  Never mind, I'm assuredly not a legal expert.

15 months, 2000 hours, and an 800 page report.  If I was footing the bill, I'd ask for a simulation showing how these discovered safety holes would manifest into loss of throttle control.  Having the simulation run in court, explaining each condition that leads up to loss of throttle control, would seem to be a slam-dunk for the plaintiff.

 

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: For the plaintiff ... (but) designated by the court
Charles Murray   11/8/2013 10:11:01 AM
NO RATINGS
The dynamometer testing was for the purpose of demonstrating that the failsafes did not prevent loss of throttle control, TJ. I don't know if any simulation was run in court. Barr's testimony essentially said this: Skid marks weren't compatible with pedal misapplication; there was no "sticky pedal" recall for this model year; there was no pedal entrapment; and the car had been inspected a dozen times for mechanical problems, such as throttle blockages. Given those facts, along with the fact that dyno testing showed "gaps" in the failsafes, it was more likely than not that a software malfuntion caused the throttle problem.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: A software glitch after all
Rob Spiegel   11/8/2013 10:33:50 AM
NO RATINGS
I never realized that change to improve a flaw is a form of admission of guilt. Wow. That's one strange moral conundrum.

naperlou
User Rank
Blogger
Re: A software glitch after all
naperlou   11/8/2013 11:26:55 AM
NO RATINGS
Software development for automobiles is a definitely a safety critical area.  This became crirical with drvice by wire.  I had a 2002 car that had an electronic engine management system, for example.  This was before "full" drive by wire.  When the EMS started to go, I was on my way home on the Interstate.  I could still drive the car, however.  It just ran rough. 

With full drive by wire, we should be using methods and techniques used for avionics and other safety critical systems.  This is becoming the case, but we will have a large overhang of vehicles, such as the Toyotas, that do not meet these standards.  Considering that any programming is amortized over a large number of units, adding this safety critical approach should not be costly.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: A software glitch after all
Rob Spiegel   11/8/2013 11:56:07 AM
NO RATINGS
Apparently, though, adding safety measures after the fact is an admission of guilt, a signal (and effectively proof) that the earlier vehicles are not safe.

ttemple
User Rank
Platinum
Re: A software glitch after all
ttemple   11/8/2013 12:07:38 PM
As a software engineer, I have always believed that this would prove to be a software problem.

I think that at some point there will be incontrovertible evidince that code is/was causing the problems.

A faster "admission of guilt" will prove to have been cheaper in the end for Toyota. Had they accepted early on that there may be a problem in the code, they would have vigorously worked at identifying the problems, and perhaps have recalled affected vehicles and applied appropriate fixes.

The truth is/was bound to come out, so why not own up and get rid of the potential of cascading liability?

naperlou
User Rank
Blogger
Re: A software glitch after all
naperlou   11/8/2013 12:08:30 PM
NO RATINGS
Rob, that may be the case, but there is no ignoring the problem.  Once it has come to light it  needs to be fixed in future vehicles and, if possible, retrofitted into older ones. 

As far as the liability, if the company knew they had this problem and did nothing, or did an inadequate job of fixing it, then they have a liability problem no matter what.  The other issue is the standards at the time of sale.  I don't know, but I doubt that there were government standards that applied at the time.  That would be the key.

This is very reminicent of the safety stadards we see in cars today.  We have the crash test ratings, which did not exist before.  Early SUVs, you might recall, had much less crash worthiness than regular automobiles when the tests were first applied to them.  It took a lot of enginerring to get them up to standard.  SUVs are basically pick-up trucks with a different body.  Pick-up trucks never had the same standards as cars.  Now that we have had some of these problems, I think we will see a big move into standards.  As for the older vehicles, you take your chances.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: A software glitch after all
Rob Spiegel   11/8/2013 12:42:20 PM
NO RATINGS
I agree with you Ttemple. Unfortunately, they seem to have put up the barracades. This seems to be a common corporate problem. I think a chance in this behavior would require a change in corporate culture.

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