Proving bug exists in firmware does not prove that the bug actually caused the crash! The industry has to rally to scrutinize the so called evidence so that it does not open a door for future litigations on every piece of software the lawyers can link with some litigation!
I was summoned for Jury duty recently for a vehicular manslaughter case recently. After the judge finished questioning I was one of the 18 sitting up there and the DA/defense has their turn to each remove two of us for whatever reason. Among the my peers, there is a guy who has two PhDs from Stanford, me having only one PhD from Purdue, and one old Filipino American lady who said she only understand 20-30% of the conversation. Guess what, the first guy get excused is the double PhD, the second one is me with one PhD. Since we have to leave right away, I don't know if the lady who only understand 20-30% English eventually get to vote on the case, but the fact that the most highly educated people got kicked out of the Jury says something about the Jury system. In order to overwhelm the jury with the "expert" evidences, neither the DA nor the defense likes people with too much analytical skills, like engineers. They never want the jury to analyze the expert testimony, they only want you to take their words.
I must I was quite relieved when I was excused because I just started a new job two weeks before that... But the way it happened left a serious doubt in my mind on how the system works.
Irrespective of any software failure, any modern car, including a Toyota Camry, can be stopped by applying the brakes. Even if the car is under full throttle. There have been numersous tests demonstrating this, and you can try it for yourself on a deserted road. Brakes are more powerful than the engine and will stop the car every time. Therefore, some blame has to be placed on the driver for the crash. An award like this sets a dangerous precedent, although I'm sure Toyota will appeal.
I do not fully understand the history of the jury but sometimes the jury decisions can be highly dependent on the lawyers. Though, in this particular case it does not seem to be the case. But still i believe that qualified judges should take the decisions instead of compassionate people.
I personally know an Engineer, fresh from college, who was a victim of Camry's unintended acceleration.. (now don't ask me which recent college grad would buy a Camry). He had a tough time explaining this in court.
I suspect that ultimately the only thing this verdict will prove is that lawyers can always hire "experts" in a particular field to bamboozle juries. A jury comprised of dispassionate engineers would probably have arrived at a different decision...
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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