The 12-member panel also includes NASA engineers with experience in areas like electromagnetic interference and mission-critical software applications. The panel, which is overseen by the National Academy of Sciences, will reportedly add at least three more members.
Professional groups such as IEEE-USA are urging the panel to include more engineers with specific expertise in automotive electronics and software. "There is no
question that any effort to investigate these incidents will clearly benefit by
including engineers with a firm grasp of the complex systems threaded through
today's automobiles," Doug Taggart, chair of the IEEE-USA Committee
on Transportation and Aerospace Policy, said in a statement.
Evelyn Hirt added that the panel also would benefit from engineers' "experience and
lessons learned from integrating technology into these vehicles."
The panel is scheduled to next meet on Aug. 2 in Detroit. Another meeting is scheduled here in October. According to the panel's Web site, a preliminary report on the causes of the Toyota throttle problem is expected to be released in June 2011.
I am an engineer with 20+ years of digital and analog design experience. My wife has had two SUA events happen to her on the same vehicle. We no have that vehicle. I have interrogated her to a point just short of divorce over every detail of the events. I have an idea of where we should be looking for a solution but I don't think anyone has listened so far. Perhaps choosing people with automotive electronics experience is the reason the manufacturers haven't identified the problem to date.
The "law of unintended consequences" reminds us that an intervention in a complex system invariably creates unanticipated and often undesirable outcomes. (Wikipedia)
The transition from mechanical systems to software embedded systems in cars (also airplanes and home appliances) adds a wide range of capabilities but also a geometric increase in the number of things that can go wrong and the difficulty of debugging misbehaving systems. As we add new functionality to systems, I believe that we have a responsibility to increase our efforts to create reliable electronic / software systems (to prevent problems) and to develop diagnostic tools (to identify and correct the root causes of failures).
What a privilege it is to be part of such an important work!
To identify the root causes of the unintended acceleration of the vehicles and to try to propose countermeasures. Imagine that in your resume!
The truth is that you first have to have the experience and background and have proven successes in your portfolio in order to be invited to such tasks. The safety of our future generations rely on the outcomes from these committees. And Engineering will benefit from this as it's the gobernment and not a particular private company making and supporting the investigations. The industry will come forward in delivering better and safer cars. This is the immediate visible objective but who knows which other industries will crop the fruits of this as the software, firmware, electrical, mechanical, EMC, etc. new knowledge will certainly be horizontally applicable to other kinds of industries and/or other fields in engineering and perhaps, why not, in other fields in science. It kinds of reminds me the Apollo 13 movie. Houston... we need a solution!
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.