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NHTSA's on the Spot — Finally

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perl_geek
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Re: Abolish the NHTSA
perl_geek   9/17/2014 5:24:44 PM
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"n fact a good argument can be made that NHTSA has slowed down the rate of innovation."

If the role of the FAA is any guide, it's almost certain. It's only experimental aviation that's pulled technology out of the 1930s.

mhrackin
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CEO
Re: Abolish the NHTSA
mhrackin   9/17/2014 4:31:11 PM
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Splendid idea!  If you look at my posts above, and in other blogs (including on sister site Design News, where I am "Ratsky") you'll see I am a long-time critic of NHTSA in particular, and government regulatory agencies in general.  I'll even throuw in some "quasi-governmental" ones like UL.  I don't have that much of a philosophical or political basis for that, but in my experience they are just so BAD at doing what they were supposedly set up to accomplish.  With the only even partial exception of emission controls, market forces have been a much bigger factor than NHTSA regulations in advancing the quality et. al. of vehicles ovver the past 40 years; in fact a good argument can be made that NHTSA has slowed down the rate of innovation.

perl_geek
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Abolish the NHTSA
perl_geek   9/17/2014 4:03:35 PM
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There's no doubt that today's motor-control electronics are better than the concatenation of mechanical emission kludges that hit their nadir about 1975, but it's hard to say the same about the NHTSA.

"Regulatory capture" is a well-known phenomenon. (A regulated industry gets control of its alleged supervisor, and proceeds to use it as a shield against liability.)

I hesitate to suggest anything that would benefit writmongers, but it would probably be better to abolish the NHTSA, and just insist that all new car's user handbooks contain the address of at least one class-action law firm.

mhrackin
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CEO
Re: Let's not forget, though, why the electronic controls
mhrackin   9/17/2014 1:20:58 PM
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I have to join in this particular thread.  My automotive experiences go back to 1950's cars.  By comparison, today's cars are incredible overall by comparison: average MPG has TRIPLED or better while performance is on average 2x, and emissions weren't even invented yet!  For quite a few years, I've presented the following (oversimplification) on how these came about: due to the innovation of electronic engine, transmission, etc. control ECMs, your entire drive train is effectively given a "'tuneup" every millisecond, and optimized to the specific environmental factors and engine loading existing at that moment.  More than anything else, this is what has brought us to the true "appliance car" that doesn't require the driver to learn how to get the most from their vehicle for the longest vehicle life.  Unfortunately, while vehicles were getting more reliable, longer-lived, and easier to use, the home appliances that had represented the best of these qualities were becoming LESS reliable, shorter-lived, and more difficult to use (and repair!) by application of the same technologies that have IMPROVED vehicles!  Kind of ironic?

junko.yoshida
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Re: Let's not forget, though, why the electronic controls
junko.yoshida   9/17/2014 6:57:10 AM
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Furthermore, as you pointed out, we need to move our debate forward in terms of how we need to design and put the fail-safe systems and necessary redundancy in place. It's easy to lament "good old cars with no electronics," but as you noted, good old cars weren't that great by today's standard.

junko.yoshida
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Re: Let's not forget, though, why the electronic controls
junko.yoshida   9/17/2014 6:51:03 AM
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@Bert, much appreciate your input here. Thank you for reminding us of the historical context on how electronics effectively improved today's cars.

Bert22306
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CEO
Let's not forget, though, why the electronic controls
Bert22306   9/16/2014 9:26:33 PM
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Junko, I'm just "feeling the need" to express that there are very sound reasons for the automakers to have introduced more and more electronic controls in cars. Many of the earliest ones were for pollution control, and then after that, also for fuel economy and for safety. Can't do without the electronics, in short.

That's why, even back in 1975, cars had to evolve to electronic ignitions and later electronic fuel injection. Catalytic converters became necessary to meet the pollution standards, and especially the newer converters, the ones that also control NOx emissions, simply would not survive the vagueries of the old school engine controls. Cannot have those occasional engine misses, or sporadic fuel/air ratios, and expect the catalytic converter to last more than a few hours of driving.

Sometimes I get the notion that people are blaming automakers for piling on useless electronics, when in the "good old days" they did without. The "good old days" were actually not so great. The precision offered by electronic controls is now mandatory, so we need to design proper fail-safe systems.

mhrackin
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CEO
Re: EE view
mhrackin   9/16/2014 4:33:57 PM
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With a total staff of 51 people at NHTSA, just how many "EEs and SW experts" do you think they have?

rick merritt
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Author
EE view
rick merritt   9/16/2014 2:01:47 PM
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Wonderful inputs from Ruginis.

I'd love to hear from some of those EEs now at the government safety board.

junko.yoshida
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Blogger
Re: Where is the OTHER 97% going?
junko.yoshida   9/16/2014 11:35:12 AM
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@mhrackin, ahhh, i see. I didn't read your subject line carefully. I get it now. Yeah, it is a good question, isn't it?

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