MADISON, Wis. — Many people who have casually followed Toyota's unintended acceleration lawsuits over the last few years seem to have decided they already know all they need to know about this case.
One of our forum readers said that Bookout v. Toyota looks like déjà vu all over again. On the surface, maybe, but not so fast.
If you are an engineer, or if you own a Toyota vehicle, you owe it yourself to remain open-minded and read the followup story, we just posted on EE Times, Toyota Case: Single Bit Flip That Killed. The story is based on an exclusive interview with Michael Barr, CTO and co-founder of Barr Group, who served as an expert witness in Bookout v. Toyota.
This article will walk you through -- for the first time -- some of the facts discovered by Barr, an expert on embedded systems, and his colleagues in the experts group during their investigation of Toyota's unintended acceleration case.
The experts, under confidentiality agreements, were given access to Toyota's electronic throttle source code in a secure room in Maryland, Barr said. They spent roughly 18 months poring over source code for the electronic throttle control systems spanning the 2000-2010 model years for the Camry, Lexus ES, Tacoma, and other vehicles.
Why do I say this is the first time you're hearing about the results of the electronic throttle source code examination by the embedded systems experts? Barr Group's testimony led to a billion-dollar economic-loss settlement by Toyota last December. Because of that settlement, the details of their analysis were not made public until the trial in Oklahoma -- where all testimony and every item of evidence became public.
An Oklahoma County jury found Toyota liable Thursday; later that day, Toyota reached a settlement rather than allowing the jury to decide punitive damages.
A side note: When I was discussing a "Task X" fatality unearthed by the experts, I asked Barr why it's called Task X. Does X mean something specific?
"Ah, that's interesting," he said. "You know, I'm not allowed to say what Task X is." It is one of the dozens of tasks of the 2005 Camry L4 software, and all the tasks are meant to run all the time. Under a court agreement, Barr is not allowed to disclose which one is X. When he testified about Task X, the judge had to clear the courtroom, except for the jury.
Wow. The mystery of Task X.
We'll be discussing this case further in news and blogs at EE Times and in technical articles by sister publications, such as EDN and Design News. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, if you know anything about X...