Now that I've addressed your concern about the title, which turns out to be a non-issue, I'd like to address some of your other points that also reflect a misunderstanding of the facts. With respect to stack overflow, as I show in my IEEE article, the expert merely claimed to have determined that there was significantly less safety margin in the stack sizing than Toyota thought. He did not find any pathways through the code that overflowed the stack, and he did not observe a stack overflow in any testing. However, he represented to the jury that he had found an actual occurrence of stack overflow, even though he found no such occurrence.
With respect to the hypothetical flip of the bit corresponding to Task X, as I show in my IEEE article, if that were to have happened, the Brake Echo Check fail-safe would have prevented unintended acceleration once the driver stepped on the brake. That fail-safe executes on a separate processor from the main processor on which Task X executes. No evidence was presented at trial to show that this fail-safe would not have worked properly, and all of the expert's test results presented at trial showed it working properly. Your assertion that the expert "showed that once the bit corresponding to TaskX was flipped in a real vehicle, all other fail-safes didn't prevent the unintended acceleration" is simply not true.
Regarding your criticism that I based my assessment on a "second-hand analysis of a redacted deposition of an expert witness," that is not true. My assessment is based on the trial testimony and slides (not a deposition transcript) that the expert made available to the public, and which he then invited us to use in "judging for ourselves." So he clearly thought that his testimony and slides were sufficient to assess his technical arguments. Indeed they were, and they revealed that his technical arguments were seriously flawed and misleading, that he didn't show that it was more likely than not that the death of Task X caused the accident, and therefore, that the jury reached the wrong verdict. I encourage you to read the complete analysis in the IEEE article.
Sure, unintended acceleration happens. Sometimes it's the driver's fault; for example, I believe that the unintended acceleration that US Audi 5000 drivers experienced was due to driver error (pressing accelerator instead of brake)
However, the Ford Escape / Mazda Tribute had a recall because the throttle cable could stick and cause unintended acceleration -- and I believe this happened to co-worker of mine on I-280.
I am the author of the original Embedded.com article. I just now discovered that this version of my article was posted by EETimes. While I am delighted that EETimes posted it, I was dismayed to see that they changed the title without my knowledge. The new title, "Why Toyota's Firmware Was Not a Killer," makes it sound like I am claiming that I have found that Toyota's firmware was not responsible for the accident. If you read the EETimes summary under the title, not to mention if you read the article itself, you will see that my point is that the plaintiffs' theory, which convinced the jury to find Toyota guilty, is not supported by the evidence and is not credible. Of course that is not the same as saying that I have determined conclusively that the firmware was not responsible, which is what the EETimes title implies. I encourage you to read the full peer-reviewed IEEE article to see all of the technical details on which my conclusions are based. In the meantime, I will see if I can get EETimes to change the title to one that more accurately reflects what I am really saying.
Depress the switch for 3 seconds when it is in gear .
This actually doe smake sense, it keeps someone from hitting that button accidentally - sometimes the someone can be a child, or in some peoples cases they have stuff in the front of the vehicle with them and it bumps the button. So yes I can understand the turning off by holding it in for 3 seconds. Push button start has been around for a long time - Corvair..
Point is ergonomically a KEY makes much more sense than trying to engineer a pushbutton to do the same thing only less effectively. To your point. If I want the engine off now - I want it off NOW, not 3 seconds from now.
Some point out that brakes were not pushed, transmissions were not disengaged or the gas pedal was mistaken for the brake. 1: Gas Pedal mistaken for the brake - a person is accelerating when they should not be - they want to hit the brakes but hit the gas. Logical Fault here - they were already in a condition of acceleration that should not have been occurring. 2: Not all drivers are consciously aware of how their car works or does not work, it is expected that if you are using software to control the vehicles acceleration or braking that it should work flawlessly, and have redundancy just in case.
I know that not all failures stack up and give a bright light hey I am the cause of this failure condition so that an engineer can track it down and declare it. In some cases an engineer doubts the condition entierely and utterly discards the possibility. If a technical person captures the moment in film or audio - the engineer is amazed and says that can't happen. And then upon research yeah yup, yes I see what this is, we had.. blah blah blah.
I myself have experienced sudden acceleration in aToyota Siena and the vehicle continued to accelerate. I was driving on a highway with cruise control, I needed to transfer from one highway to another so I tapped the brake to disengage the cruise control, I took the off ramp my feet are no where near the brakes or the gas because i do not need to traffic is extremely light. I get to the bottom of the on ramp and press the resume button on the cruise control. The vehicle accelerates very quickly 55, 60, 65, 70, 75 , 80, 85 - I am way past my cruise control setting at this point and expecting it to have levelled off at 75 from "overshoot" but it does not it is still accelerating when I am at almost 90 miles per hour I turn the cruise control off and press the brakes. So someone telling me they do not have an issue is like telling me the Earth , the Internet and people do not exist.
OK, "most of...in America" -- happy now? Could this possibly be linked to the litigious society culture in the USA together with the number of lawyers? (more than the rest of the world put together IIRC)
"Have you ever wondered why all these cases seem to occur only in America?"
Sudden acceleration incidents are not confined to the USA. There have been a number of SA incidents in the UK, New Zealand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, France, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Zimbabwe, Korea.
The simplest explanations are usually closest to the truth but also froth with politics. Mark Saylor and most of the other Toyota drivers committed a Type 2 Right Foot Pedal Error, part of the Right Foot Braking Epidemic. Neither the drivers nor Toyota were to blame but instead the Real men who are responsible for at least 7 deaths each day and go unpunished. What happened to the investigative journalists who should be investigating and exposing this mess?
THE BLAME GAME – REAL MEN AND THE TRAGEDY OF RIGHT FOOT BRAKING ON AUTOMATIC CARS.
The car has always been one of the most dangerous modes of transportation from not only the driver's point of view but also other victims such as cyclists, pedestrians and people including children, inside supposedly safe buildings.
There are times when car crashes reach epidemic proportions and at this point politicians and governments play the blame game. The favorite and easy targets are the automobile manufacturers and the drivers. The governments in charge of driver legislation and training never blame themselves so if you don't mind we will.
This is the story of how things went horribly wrong because testosterone got in the way. You see, Real men in or out of government believe that every driver should brake an automatic car with their right foot. Truth be told Real men would like us to all drive manual transmission cars but the women got in the way and ruined a manly tradition.
We now have evidence (If the Real men would look at it), that indicates that right foot braking on automatic cars is:
1. The cause of car-building/parking lot crashes.
2. The cause or the weakness (poor stopping distance) of car-cyclist, pedestrian, etc crashes.
The politicians will argue that this tragedy has been studied. That is true, reports DOT HS811 597 and DOT HS812 058 have been issued. The reports say:
1. A lot of people are being killed or injured by right foot pedal error. The forecast is that between 16,000 and 18,000 car-building crashes will occur in North America this year with an estimated death rate of approximately 600-1000 many of them children. This means since the automatic transmission became popular over 30,000 people have been killed, millions suffered life changing injures and the costs have been in the billions. AND THIS IS ONLY IN PARKING LOTS. If one does a little math and estimates the effect of including the cars on roadways, 150,000 deaths, millions and millions of injuries, billions and billions of costs is a reasonable estimate!
Actually the boys who wrote the reports couldn't bring themselves to use the phrase" right foot pedal error". They called it the politically correct phrase "pedal misapplication". Oh and by the way they said it was mostly the fault of the women and old people drivers. I'm quite sure this met with the approval of the Real men who are convinced that neither of these two groups should be allowed to be on the road.
2. It appears that there isn't any car that can be designed for all the different sized drivers that will prevent right foot pedal error so we will just have to do the best we can.
Did it not occur to the many learned professional people who wrote these reports that just maybe they should have concentrated on the driver - not the car. That maybe there was a braking METHOD that would allow all drivers of all shapes and sizes, to for example stop a car in a distance 30 – 40 feet shorter than they could if they used their right foot to brake. And that the use of such a method would eliminate right foot pedal error? Could they have had that kind of tunnel vision? Or were they told not to go there? After all who is going to stand up and apologize to the 30,000 – 150,000 people who have lost their lives.
To further rub salt in the wounds, the Real men in charge of driver legislation and training continue to hold right foot braking on automatic cars up as the gold standard and constantly deride all other methods of braking such as the Left Foot Braking Method, leftfootbraking.org. This with the full knowledge that they have Never Had Any Scientific Data That Proves The Superiority Of Right Foot Braking On Automatic Cars!
Their science can be summed up by quoting a government transportation expert who said, "That's how it's always been taught"! These are the people you are trusting to teach your children how to stay alive while driving but as pointed out on the website, have been set up to FAIL!
There is an answer to this tragedy and you can help:
1. Go to leftfootbraking.org and learn about how the Real men should have taught drivers to brake an automatic car. It is the Left Foot Braking Method and it is not just trying to brake with your left foot so read carefully.
2. Contact your government and demand they support and run a scientific study comparing right foot braking on automatic cars with the Left Foot Braking Method.
3. We are confident what the results will be. So based on the results of the scientific study, we then want you to demand the governments BAN the teaching of right foot braking on automatic cars.
4. And finally we want you to demand the Real men stand up and apologize to the 150,000 dead people and the millions and millions who have had life changing injuries.
Oh and by the way the semi-autonomous car is not going to help. Once the thrill is gone, the driver switches back to his normal "I am in control" mode and the possibility of right foot pedal error. We have already had our first SA end up in a building!
Trevor W. Frith
Was it driver error or the way we taught them to brake?
Trevor W. Frith is the webmaster of leftfootbraking .org and is calling on those in charge of driver legislation and training to commit to a scientific study comparing right foot braking on automatic transmission cars with the Left Foot Braking Method. Mr. Frith may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org,
For further verification search; 'Car Crashes into Building'-The All-Too-Common Headline. Ameriprise Auto and Home Insurance and download podcast Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell, Episode 8, Blame Game. We also worked with Richard Schmidt before he died.