This article mentions that NASA didn't find a software problem, though there appeared to be one.
The fact remains, NASA did in fact find a hardware problem - whiskers growing out of the solder joints shorting out the potentiometer sensors used in Toyota's throttle position sensor which had caused unintended acceleration in one vehicle.
Whisker growth is quite a common problem with no-lead solder and Toyota, I feel, is negligent in not using a conformal coating or a system fail-safe mode.
Unintended full throttle application can cause a loss of vehicle control when it happens in crucial traffic and road conditions. If one applies the brakes in the usual fashion, it may feel as if they are not working. If brakes are pumped in an effort to stop the vehicle, the vacuum supply for the power brakes will be exhausted because its source, manifold vacuum is zero with the throttle wide open. Full brakes with no vacuum boost can take a pedal pressure of about 1,000 pounds, quite attainable with one's leg muscles, but not something the average driver would expect.
Turning off the ignition runs the risk of locking the steering column when done in a panic, but then would still require very high pedal pressure because of lack of vacuum boost. Throwing the car into neutral isn't exactly instinctive due to a white knuckle panic grip on the wheel. Throwing the car into neutral might well over-rev the engine and blow it up, while still not giving you vacuum for your power brakes.
If a sudden wide open throttle occurs on the open road, most of us could cope. If it happens at just the wrong time, in other words by Murphy's law, it's touch and go. "There but for the grace of God go I."
I for one would certainly not risk buying a Toyota for myself, let alone buy one for a loved one.
Based on the small likelihood that it was actually proved that an electronic defect caused the acceleration. And that Toyota has successfully defended itself so far in previous trials.
"I guess it's okay to be baseless as long as you are dispassionate about it."
Proof has yet to be forthcoming even after extensive study of the issue. It seems unwarranted to infer from a decision by 12 non-technical jurors on this matter that anything has changed in that regard.
Agreed, and the transmission should be slammed in to neutral to disengage the engine from the drive train. Drivers need to know how to handle equipment malfunction. It's never been required in any licensing test for passenger vehicles that I'm aware of though...
Recently, friend of mine buys a car with driver's assist. It applies brake when the vehicle is getting too fast and too close to the car in the front. He's wondering why this feature hasn't been widely adopted years ago since all the necessary sensors are avaiable years back.
To create something requires imagination. To polish something into a product requires more. In automotive industry, reliability and liability are important. If a feature isn't seen as "risk-free", it will not be installed in a vehicle. In addition, the company has to consider how people are operating the vehicle.
Ultronsonic sensors have been used in luxury vehicle more than 15 years ago for parking assist. I am pretty sure automotive companies are looking into applying the technology to elsewhere, for example, driver's assist. What takes the industry so long to adopt it widely?
What if the vehicle with the great feature still hit the car in the front? Who's liable?
Now, will this ruling create a roadblock to the advance of driverless car?