It is time to gather detailed information about unintended acceleration events and identify the root causes for the benefit of all drivers and automakers. There have been many reports of unintended acceleration across automative platforms. The fact that most of these events resulted in no injury means there is no obvious motive for the drivers to be lying about their experiences. Whether throttle links jam, floor mats pin the accelerator, placement of brakes and accelerator are unconventional, or the software glitches, these problems need to be prevented. It might even be that people take their foot off the accelerator and rest it on the floor when driving with cruise control and lose track of their pedal positions. Open communication and analysis of the patterns should identify the root causes so that they can be addressed in a timely manner. Even 1 in a million events are significant issues in products as widespread as automobiles. I'll bet there are multiple root causes to address.
Hi Charlene. Not sure why you are still having problems - very weird. The only other suggestiong I have is to wait a few seconds after the "Post a comment" screen comes up. If you start typing too soon after it comes up you only get a small box without any text formatting icons and I think it might get stuck on that. I have to wait a good few seconds for the bigger box to come up.
Have you tried using a completely different computer, eg one in a library or internet cafe? Do you get the same problem there? If so, maybe get one of the web gurus at EET to look at your profile, maybe there is something wrong there (but I'm really clutching at straws here... :-)
I see you posted your last comment twice. This happens to me sometimes when my connection is very slow and I get impatient and click "Post" twice. Are you on a very slow connection? If so, all the more reason to wait for the full posting box to come up.
I hope that it is now clear what I was trying to point out.
You meant to say simply, "It's Charlene, not Francene"? Sorry. I guess that simple message got lost in the volume.
Now that your eyes have registered that the'unfounded speculation' comes from NHTSA may I wish them a happy rollback!
Not at all. The message from NHTSA is simple. They say, the idle adjustment mechanism may briefly cause more acceleration than it should, which apparently contributes to startling some drivers into planting their foot by mistake on the accelerator vs the brake. They also said that the pedal positioning was different from that of large US cars, which may become a factor for those unaccustomed to these cars, and that the brakes were not a likely fault mechanism for this event. Because it would require complete brake system failure, which would have been detectable after the fact (and it was not detected after the fact).
So, the important take-away here should be that this idle adjustment malfunction or ANY OTHER cause of driver panic could result in a reaction which actually floors the throttle (especially for drivers unaccustomed to that car). Because that throttle was being floored, the report does not offer other mechanisms than that one. I'll repeat what I said in that post, in response, and you can tell me if anything is ambiguous in that response:
The Audi example was a fairly good demonstration of what happens to panic-prone human drivers, unassisted by smarts in the car controls, when confronted with something slightly different from ordinary.
The pedal placement explanation, also offered in the NHTSA report, appears to have been correct. Audi corrected it, so end of story. We appear to be enjoying harping on the problem instead of the solution? When car companies are accused of not correcting the faults, here is an example where that accusation is unfounded, yes?
Then you go on:
I confirm that the highlighted portion of the above paragraph comes verbatim from the 1988 NHTSA Report
Fine, but that quote that you "confirm" was never in question. The quote in question, instead, and please do check back to the original post, was:
Think of it...the next step in electronically-controlled vehicles seems to be so-called "self-driving cars." etc.
So again, bottom line, in the Audi case, no one hypothesized ANYTHING other than "startled driver plants foot on accelerator, and claims he was braking."
Which is what Car and Driver also concluded at the time.
When it becomes obvious that individuals can't be trusted, whether they be drivers or car company employees or execs, then the government can legitimately step in and write regulations to protect everyone else. And in the case of unintended acceleration caused by software glitches, or electric accelerator pedal position sensor malfunction, such legislation is really not hard to write, from an engineering point of view.
For an engineering publication, that should be enough.
Thank you, again, @DavidAshton. Unfortunately, the Google Chrome did not solve my paragraphing issue here. I apologize in advance for the lack of paragraphs. I had plenty of them but you wouldn't know it:(
Excellent, Dr. Anderson. Your credibility is well-established here and elsewhere. Thank you very much for clarifying the details about the Audi study. @Bert's comment was confusing, but I hope it was just an innocent mistake on his part. Perhaps he can clarify further. So far, all I've gleaned from his postings is that drivers can be "boneheads" and that automakers *could* incorporate appropriate fail-safes. However, his comments do NOT change the reality that sudden unintended acceleration is STILL killing drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and even store occupants. All the beliefs in the world aren't going to change that fact. The PR push for "driver error" to be found is as thick as molasses. Trolls are circling like sharks to name-call and discredit. This discussion is just starting publicly. My guess is that it will continue to grow as these SUA incidents increase. The automakers can only continue the DEB for so long as a distraction. I believe some recent cases that clearly cannot be "driver error" are causing sufficient doubt in the public's mind.
@Bert You quote the following paragraph, Via Charlene from Michael Barr's Blog
"Some versions of Audi idle-stabilization system were prone to defects which resulted in excessive idle speeds and brief unanticipated accelerations of up to 0.3g. These accelerations could not be the sole cause of [long-duration unintended acceleration incidents], but might have triggered some [of the long-duration incidents] by startling the driver." It was presumed that the Audi drivers, when the brief UA surfaced, were "startled." This, the NHTSA stated, may have resulted in longer duration UA when the driver hit the accelerator pedal instead of the brake pedal."
I confirm that the highlighted portion of the above paragraph comes verbatim from the 1988 NHTSA Report
by Walter, Carr, Weinstock, Sussman and Pollard. This was published as a self-standing report by NHTSA in December 1989 and was incorporated as Appendix H into the 1989 NHTSA Sudden Acceleration Report. The last two sentences were written by Dr Michael Barr to explain the "startlement" aspect of the pedal error hypothesis as it might relate to the case of the Audi 5000 which was liable to large engine surges should the idle valve control system malfunction and cause a wide open idle valve condition.
It is the NHTSA report that says that the Audi idle stabilisation system could cause ' brief unanticipated accelerations of up to 0.3g' and it is the NHTSA Report that is speculating how that might result in a full blown sudden acceleration incident by bringing in the pedal error hypothesis.
Bert you comment "I'm sorry, Charlene, but this is the sort of unfounded speculation that makes my eyes roll to the back of my head, during these feeding frenzies." Now that your eyes have registered that the'unfounded speculation' comes from NHTSA may I wish them a happy rollback!
This was a fair question to ask if Francene happened to write the offending paragraph.
I'm not sure what you are trying to point out. Who wrote:
Think of it...the next step in electronically-controlled vehicles seems to be so-called "self-driving cars." ... And the rest of that paragraph I quoted? Someone else? Look back.
I don't think we need to belabor that point, though, and I think I stated quite clearly what my objections were. If you disagree with my objecions, then tell me how. I'll briefly restate them:
1. Unintended full throttle commands can fairly easily be protected against, with a brake override of throttle commands (software plus mechanical, or perhaps redundant software override can be shown to be sufficiently reliable). Touch the brake, and the throttle goes to idle, irrespective of what the accelerator pedal sensor says (much as brake application kills cruise control). So as an ENGINEERING problem, this is hardly a head scratcher. To continue to dwell on unintended acceleration, implying that it is an intrinsic issue with software control that can never be resolved, therefore begins to sound like senationalism, in a technical journal. Maybe it would be better suited for a legal journal. Again, the engineering issue, i.e. to provide an override, is not complicated. So the rest is browbeating the car company until it fixes the problem.
2. Even in spite of the fact that a "proper" throttle command override may not have been implemented in cars with electronic throttles, the documented occurrence of these events is way, way less than the documented occurrence of driving accidents that can easily have been prevented by more automatic driver assist systems, if not autonomous vehicles. A technical publication needs to get beyond the sensationalism.
Those are my two main objections. So, here would be a more appropriate comment. "Think of it. In spite of the fact that unintended acceleration events are occurring, evidently not being protected against adequately, the statistics still show that the very vast majority of traffic accidents could have been avoided by better vehicle sensors and control automation. We need to be more rigorous in verifying the safety of control software, but at the same time, we can't let sensationalism paralyze progress."
@Bert you write: "Okay, this is the "offending" paragraph that elicited my reaction:
Think of it...the next step in electronically-controlled vehicles seems to be so-called "self-driving cars." Do YOU want to be in a such a vehicle when there is no evidence that strict safety standards, particularly in the throttle control system's software, have been adhered to?"
I think you clearly thought the paragraph in question was:
· "offensive, disturbing, unsavoury, unpalatable, disagreeable" , or
· "offending against, or breaking a law or a rule". Reference.
This is how you reacted to the contents of the paragraph:
"Francene, this is supposed to be a technical forum, right?... "
This was a fair question to ask if Francene happened to write the offending paragraph. But there is a whiff of an 'if' about it is there not? The following cautionary tale warns of the risks of getting mired in controversy where minding the bull might have saved the day.
Robert Hamilton(1743-1829] sometime Professor of Mathematics at Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen was brilliant, amusing, eccentric and very short sighted. One day, according to the story, when on a walk and deep in mathematical thought, he stumbled against a cow grazing on the links. On passing his wife shortly afterwards he said: "is that you again brute?"
After further rumination, you will recognize that Francene's contribution to this thread shows no trace of the "offending" paragraph, ergo the paragraph must have been written by another. It follows that you ought to judge Francene's post on its own merits as "non offending". On this basis I return to the substance of her post.
It appears that Francene's family reported two sudden acceleration incidents in the same car to the Dealer . The Manufacturer examined the vehicle and came up with a "No Fault Found" (NFF) diagnosis. Francene reports : "...they < = the manufacturers> are telling us their tests are fault free and the car has never suffered that.< = a sudden acceleration>".
Having reached a firm diagnosis – presumably based on the fallacy that "absence of proof of a software malfunction is proof of absence"– the manufacturer enumerated a number of possible non-electronic causes, passing lightly over floormats and sticky pedals before homing in on DRIVER ERROR. Francene calls it "Driver Error Bullshit" or DEB for short....DEB is, I feel a very useful construct that describes a full-stregth Driver Error Bullshit package that can be delivered to a customer at short notice after a SA incident is reported.
Junko began her article:
"For the first time, an automobile company has conceded that a software glitch in electronic control units could cause cars to accelerate suddenly....."
Alternatively: "Honda opts for DEB-free future!". Hence the "Good on you Honda...etc." from Francene which started this thread.
Will other automobile manufacturers follow the example of Honda and opt for DEB-free explanations of SA in the future or will they carry on DEBBING their customers as they do at the moment? Discuss.
"Some versions of Audi idle-stabilization system were prone to defects which resulted in excessive idle speeds and brief unanticipated accelerations of up to 0.3g. These accelerations could not be the sole cause of [long-duration unintended acceleration incidents], but might have triggered some [of the long-duration incidents] by startling the driver." It was presumed that the Audi drivers, when the brief UA surfaced, were "startled." This, the NHTSA stated, may have resulted in longer duration UA when the driver hit the accelerator pedal instead of the brake pedal.
I'm sorry, Charlene, but it is just this sort of unfounded speculation that makes my eyes roll to the back of my head, during these feeding frenzies. The Audi example was a fairly good demonstration of what happens to panic-prone human drivers, unassisted by smarts in the car controls, when confronted with something slightly different from ordinary. Other really obvious examples might be driving on snow or other conditions where traction might not be perfect, in hard rain, fog, and on and on. And never mind drunk or other impaired driving.
Many drivers will end up doing really odd things in these situations. I gave you the example of my Fiat's hand throttle, to show that unintended throttle application can occur with absolutely no software in the loop. It is just one of those unexpected conditions, even if not always terribly serious, that the unassisted human CANNOT be trusted to handle properly. In the Audi case, it was even "brief," proving that much more just how the full throttle aftermath was not attributable to the vehicle itself.
You won't get "oooh" and "aaah" from me on this. If there are legitimate software glitches, no question they have to be addressed. If you attempt to broaden one software glitch into a indictment of everything electronic, or automakers in general, or the big bad faceless companies, well, I just feel aggravated.