As I talk to more people, it's clear that it's not just Toyota who is having problems with software. One industry expert told me last week in Japan, "Every carmarker is sharing the similar pain and is of as quilty."
Yesterday there were articles on a large recall of 2007-2008 Honda Odysseys due to a defect in the active stability control, which would cause the system to slam on the brakes as the car was driving along, without activating the brake lights! The underlying problem is supposedly in a yaw sensor, but obviously the software cannot deal with a faulty sensor. This is the second such recall. Honda claims there have been no injuries, so we don't have the expert analysis to determine what is wrong with their software that it cannot handle sensor problems.
You're right. Bugs in a car bought for a lot of money are frustrating and annoying! Why can't they make massive production goods without failing? Car parts are easy to buy, but human parts are something totally different!
f@Plurph - You would be surprized at how many items come up during flight testing on an Aircraft -- or even on one system on an aircraft -- System level simulation still has a long way to go -- then there are items like SEU in CPU's MCU's and FPGA's that often are left for the FAA to analyze after certification!
Hardware (mechanical, electrical, and electronic) and software for aerospace/aviation/medical devices are a whole different ballgame than that for general industry and business much less personal use. The FAA and FDA have reams of criteria that must be met regarding possible failure modes and required results. As pointed out in the Airbus example and more recently Boeing's battery problems major items can still slip through but all in all, as should be that is very very rare..
What does bother me is that it sounds like there are NO gov standards for all the drive by wire systems showing up. Throttle/transmission/ignition 'key' being computer driven is bad enough but now several high-end vechicles also sport full drive-by-wire steering as well. Scary....
As a side note, those reqs are why personal electronics were so restricted on flights until recently - it was (and still is) impossible to test the possible interactions between avionics and all the different makes & models of toys people bring on board. So, just easier to ban them until sufficient body of anicdodal evidence could be gathered saying '99.999999999% sure should be no problem'.