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Toyota Case: Single Bit Flip That Killed

10/25/2013 03:35 PM EDT
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Robotics Developer
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Re: Who tested this thing?
Robotics Developer   10/28/2013 1:26:35 PM
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Les Slater, I am not sure how an autonomous driven car makes the problem less difficult.  Given all the variables with roads (conditions, car state of operation, other vehicles, etc.) there is just so many complications to account for that I would be very surprised if they covered all the bases.  Given the huge task and the possible failures of systems/subsystems what is the fallback for the "passengers"?  How/when would they be able or know to take over?  It sort of bogles the mind - all the possibilities.  I have driven robots both with drive assist and with full manual - drive assist really helps but if there is a sensor fault it does not take long to get into trouble even at 15 ft/sec, I can't imagine what would happen at highway speeds.   I am sure that the technical challenges can be solved but would really want to see a lot more testing, standards, and safety features before I would "get behind the wheel" of an autonomous car.

 

But to the Toyota case I was troubled by the lack of driver control over the electronics given the systems set up as they were.  I would not want any system to override a desire to stop.  There should have been a means to prevent runaway situations if nothing else but to stop motion if there is a difference between gas and brake..  just a thought.. Intent is hard to know for sure I agree, but if the black box was able to robustly determine if the gas was pressed and/or the brake then maybe intent would have been easier to determine.

Robotics Developer
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Re: Who tested this thing?
Robotics Developer   10/28/2013 1:15:35 PM
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Back@ MeasurementBlues, I can only imagine the lawsuits, the costs, the huge money (for the lawyers!) given the fact that it will be companies being targeted for the fault. What about the car service people? If they did not "properly" check out the operation of the vehicles electronics at the last service then they could be liable as well.  Just think what that would cost everyone if all the service folks needed insurance to protect themselves from lawsuits and the added cost of new tests/equipement..

 

rich.pell
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Re: Black box?
rich.pell   10/28/2013 12:58:04 PM
"I wonder how many drivers have been wrongly accused of being the cause when the Blackbox data is used and treated like it is an impartial data collection means???"

This is why having some idea of the probability of such errors is so important.  Here it seems that the jury concluded that not only did a throttle fail-safe error occur but that also the car's EDR failed to record events properly.  What is the likelihood of this scenario compared to that of a human error-caused unintended acceleration - an event that is known to be not uncommon, especially among older drivers?   

JCreasey
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Re: Toyota's culpability here is the tip of the iceberg for everyone
JCreasey   10/28/2013 12:17:32 PM
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I totally agree with you Les. My point was that any system where the human is in the loop as an arbiter or safety responder is problematic not that automation would not work.

If totally autonomous vehicles are the solution, then IMO there should be a central automation system with the cars as clients to it (V2I), not millions of standalone compute islands and certainly not island to island (V2V mesh). 

With today's drive by wire we have the technology in place in many vehicles to centralize control instead of the island based designs like the Google car. It would be cheaper and IMO more reliable to enlist in a central controller than try to be standalone or co-operative with island neighbors.

While lots of work (compute island) tackles the problem of seeing the defined for a human driver environment (lanes, signs, other vehicles etc), a central system infrastructure (viewed from the static road sensor positions) has that knowledge inbuilt (programmed). There is no need for lanes, signs, traffic lights etc. 

.

Les_Slater
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Re: Who tested this thing?
Les_Slater   10/28/2013 11:40:52 AM
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Robotics Developer, Autonomous vehicles can actually make the problem less difficult, not in overall complexity, but oversight of the situation, situational awareness. In the Toyota scenario that we're discussing there is no way to independently judge intent, or consequences.

Les_Slater
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Re: Toyota's culpability here is the tip of the iceberg for everyone
Les_Slater   10/28/2013 11:25:27 AM
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JCreasey, Autonomous vehicles can actually make the problem less difficult, not in overall complexity, but oversight of the situation, situational awareness. In the Toyota scenario that we're discussing there is no way to independently judge intent, or consequences,

Les_Slater
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Re: Securing future for automobile electronics control
Les_Slater   10/28/2013 10:46:32 AM
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Bert, I had a mechanical throttle malfunction also. It was '53 Buick V8 with a Dynaflow automatic transmission. Somehow an acceleration attempt over compressed a worn motor mount to the extent that the engine torque rotated the engine block, relative to the engine compartment, beyond design tolerance for the integrity of the totally mechanical carburetor linkage and it jammed, wide open. I quickly turned off the key, which brought me to problem number two, no power steering and I was on a winding road and had to turn the ignition back on to steer. A fortunate section of straight road allowed me to kill the engine and bring it to a safe stop.

jring614
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No Mo Bug
jring614   10/28/2013 10:23:12 AM
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Recent technology breakthroughs make it possible to find all faults in a computer program and all incompatibilities between multiple computer programs in seconds.

www.ontopilot.com

Furthermore, this can be done, instruction by instruction, at code execution time so hardware failures, electrical glitches or cyberintrusions can be nullified. 

DO-178C is a nice try but does not ensure that all faults are found.

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Who tested this thing?
MeasurementBlues   10/28/2013 10:17:34 AM
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@RoboticsDeveloper, good to hear from you again. "Given all that I read in the article it makes me quite concerned about self driving cars."

The lawyers must be salivating at the thought of self-driving cars. Accidents will occur even then, and there will be no driver error as the cause. The blame will fall to the auto makers, designers of the roads, municipalities of these raids are not properly maintained, and so on.

 

Robotics Developer
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Re: Black box?
Robotics Developer   10/28/2013 10:07:13 AM
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Rich Pell, that was what I read into that statement.  What worries me more is that it was possible to record false data in the first place.  That seems to be a failure in the design that should have been caught early in the design review process.  All that said, I wonder how many drivers have been wrongly accused of being the cause when the Blackbox data is used and treated like it is an impartial data collection means???  Makes me wonder, for example: jury members for this trial NEEDED to have some technical understanding / discernement otherwise how could they come to the right conclusion?  If my dad had been on the jury most if not all of this would have been quite over his head.  This aspect of the trial I find very interesting and I wonder what the jury selection process entailed.

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