Toyota and Lexus are #1 in cases of sudden unintended acceleration and FORD is #2. The current unintended acceleration plaguing newer vehicles is the electronically-induced type. The engine throttle control systems depend on computer software to command them. Sometimes glitches occur...like in some of your other electronic devices...which can cause the command to be different than what you desire. The evidence of the glitch is often undetectable after the vehicle is restarted. Unfortunately, the EDR (black box) is not always accurate as shown by expert Dr. Antony Anderson in his analysis of a 2012 Toyota Highlander. The EDR results indicated the driver was not braking when she was doing so. The EDR results are inconsistent.
The key to avoiding a horrific crash during a SUA event is whether or not the vehicle has an effective fail-safe in the event a glitch occurs. If it does not, as in the case of the glitch-prone Toyota ETCS-i, then the vehicle may become a runaway with an ineffective means to stop it. Unfortunately, the safety standards aren't as strict in automobiles as they are in airplanes. Some manufacturers have more effective fail-safes than others. In the case of Toyota, an embedded software expert, Michael Barr (see Oklahoma Bookout vs. Toyota court case involving a 2005 Camry) found that an electronic glitch could induce a SUA event. Another expert, Dr. Henning Leidecker, found that a SUA event could also be triggered by "tin whisker" formation, particularly in 2002-2006 Toyota Camry vehicles.
SUA events have been DEADLY for vehicle occupants as well as pedestrians and people in storefronts, buildings, and even homes. The numbers of such crashes are ever-increasing with the advent of the very complex ELECTRONIC throttle control systems.
With the increase in such serious vehicle crashes, there is a concerted effort to show driver "pedal misapplication" or a "medical condition" or some other reason for the incident...anything other than a vehicle defect. Investigators aren't scrutinizing the buggy electronic throttle control software or other conditions that can elicit a terrifying sudden unintended acceleration incident. They usually just examine the *mechanical* causes which tend to be just red herrings in these cases. Investigators simply don't have the expertise to find such electronic glitches. In fact, the staff at the NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, do not have this very specialized training!
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? Will you just BLINDLY trust the automaker (criminally-investigated and nearly-prosecuted Toyota and soon-to-be GM and others?) to come through for you and your family's safety *on its own*?
A recently published Huffington Post article by Jonathan Handel,
How Do We Know Driverless Cars Are Safe? Google Says 'Trust Us'
Posted: 07/01/2014 7:23 pm EDT Updated: 07/02/2014 1:48 pm EDT speaks to these very issues and poses tough questions about Google's "driverless" vehicles. Educate yourself carefully before you put your faith in automakers who have knowingly lied to their customers and the government for decades. Study the issue of vehicle electronic sudden unintended acceleration and ask WHY we aren't seeing it addressed publicly. WHY is blame placed on the driver with little more than speculation about which pedal was used or with little more than an assumption on medical condition. This is being done *even when the drivers steadfastly cite a VEHICLE PROBLEM as the cause of the crash. Absence of proof is not proof of absence of a serious ELECTRONIC computer glitch or other electronically-caused SUA.
Due to our content management system, it looks like your thoughtful response didn't correctly render (no breaks between paragraphs).
Because I would like many of our readers to read you response, let me post again, all the points you made in your comment, with paragraph breaks, below:
Toyota and Lexus are #1 in cases of sudden unintended acceleration and FORD is #2.
The current unintended acceleration plaguing newer vehicles is the electronically-induced type.
The engine throttle control systems depend on computer software to command them. Sometimes glitches occur...like in some of your other electronic devices...which can cause the command to be different than what you desire.
The evidence of the glitch is often undetectable after the vehicle is restarted.
Unfortunately, the EDR (black box) is not always accurate as shown by expert Dr. Antony Anderson in his analysis of a 2012 Toyota Highlander. The EDR results indicated the driver was not braking when she was doing so.
The EDR results are inconsistent.
The key to avoiding a horrific crash during a SUA event is whether or not the vehicle has an effective fail-safe in the event a glitch occurs.
If it does not, as in the case of the glitch-prone Toyota ETCS-i, then the vehicle may become a runaway with an ineffective means to stop it.
Unfortunately, the safety standards aren't as strict in automobiles as they are in airplanes.
Some manufacturers have more effective fail-safes than others. In the case of Toyota, an embedded software expert, Michael Barr (see Oklahoma Bookout vs. Toyota court case involving a 2005 Camry) found that an electronic glitch could induce a SUA event.
Another expert, Dr. Henning Leidecker, found that a SUA event could also be triggered by "tin whisker" formation, particularly in 2002-2006 Toyota Camry vehicles.
SUA events have been DEADLY for vehicle occupants as well as pedestrians and people in storefronts, buildings, and even homes.
The numbers of such crashes are ever-increasing with the advent of the very complex ELECTRONIC throttle control systems.
With the increase in such serious vehicle crashes, there is a concerted effort to show driver "pedal misapplication" or a "medical condition" or some other reason for the incident...anything other than a vehicle defect.
Investigators aren't scrutinizing the buggy electronic throttle control software or other conditions that can elicit a terrifying sudden unintended acceleration incident.
They usually just examine the *mechanical* causes which tend to be just red herrings in these cases.
Investigators simply don't have the expertise to find such electronic glitches.
In fact, the staff at the NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, do not have this very specialized training! Think of it...the next step in electronically-controlled vehicles seems to be so-called "self-driving cars."
Do YOU want to be in such a vehicle when there is no evidence that strict safety standards, particularly in the throttle control system's software, have been adhered to?
Will you just BLINDLY trust the automaker (criminally-investigated and nearly-prosecuted Toyota and soon-to-be GM and others?) to come through for you and your family's safety *on its own*?
A recently published Huffington Post article by Jonathan Handel, How Do We Know Driverless Cars Are Safe? Google Says 'Trust Us' Posted: 07/01/2014 7:23 pm EDT Updated: 07/02/2014 1:48 pm EDT speaks to these very issues and poses tough questions about Google's "driverless" vehicles.
Educate yourself carefully before you put your faith in automakers who have knowingly lied to their customers and the government for decades.
Study the issue of vehicle electronic sudden unintended acceleration and ask WHY we aren't seeing it addressed publicly.
WHY is blame placed on the driver with little more than speculation about which pedal was used or with little more than an assumption on medical condition.
This is being done *even when the drivers steadfastly cite a VEHICLE PROBLEM as the cause of the crash. Absence of proof is not proof of absence of a serious ELECTRONIC computer glitch or other electronically-caused SUA. Charlene Blake
It's not nearly as simple as you make it, however.
The first cases of unintended acceleration that made a big news splash occurred in the 1980s, before electronic throttle controls, and Audi was the bad guy. The best anyone could determine then was that that drivers were planting their foot on the accelerator rather than the brake, in spite of their denials. Audi moved the pedals further apart, and the news blitz seemed to die down. At the time, I think it was Car and Driver magazine that took comparative measurements of the positioning of pedals in different cars, and the Audi ones were a little bit shifted to the left. So that's a possibility.
So, does anyone doubt that driver error is at least a contributing factor? I don't. Is it still the major contributing factor, as it must have been before electronic thottles were introduced? Well, we simply don't know.
Any time driver error is involved in any accident, which I'll bet a fair sum of money is the staggeringly vast majority of times, an autonomous vehicle would most likely have avoided the accident. I mean, just imagine all the cases of driver inattention that lead to rear end collisions or collisions through intersections. Easily solved with more automation.
This problem of software glitch causing unintended acceleration is fairly easily solved by mandating a mechanical override, so that any application of the brake closes the throttle. Yes, there may be some corner cases where some will claim you need to apply brakes and accelerator simultaneously, but you know what? As manual transmissions gradually disappear from the scene, even those corner cases will become mostly irrelevant. Not to mention that there are other, more clever ways of managing that starting-up-a-steep-hill-without -rolling-back problem, oh yeah, with control algorithms.
The idea that manual driving is somehow the only "safe" way of moving a vehicle is fairly absurd, just looking at drivers day in and day out. As much as these software-induced glitches occur, their incidence has to be minuscule compared with what we face every day on the road. (Not saying that the problem should be ignored, of course.) Think about it.
"It's not nearly as simple as you make it, however."
Not surprising given that the above "comment" appears to be plastered over the comments sections of numerous other sites that happen to mention "Toyota" and "recall" etc. The words "spam" and "troll" come to mind...
"So, does anyone doubt that driver error is at least a contributing factor?"
Sure: conspiracy theorists, publicity seeking "consumer activists," and expert witnesses/consultants and lawyers who see big $$$ in potential lawsuits against big corporations.
It obvious that you haven't had the pleasure of being in one of these death traps! As My Mums corolla had it happen once to her , and another time to my brother 5 weeks ago! His experience was it took off as he was coming into a busy roundabout, got the picture, was in the right lane couldn't hold it as hit was hitting peak revs and had to veer to left lane as he would have
Ran up the back of the car in front...he got it around and got off side off road , by putting it in to neutral and turning the ignition off . Was in shock as you would be! Checked his pants! Turned the ignition on Car went in to peak revs even harder then the spin around the circle, with no foot on break or the accelerator peddle..And all the time the accelerator peddle was up, so wipe out sticky peddle or the other lie as the mats are killers !
Oh then the driver error bullshit! Then you have a case call unintended acceleration might add the sudden there to.Know at the moment we are trying to get the manufacturer to take its lemon back! But they are telling us their tests are fault free and the car has never suffered that.But I can tell you that my Mun and brother thought they were going to die! And
Toyota are telling us it never happened ! They are pulling the wool over
their customers eyes as we are not ediots as what they are making out! SO in other words Go away and kill your self and wipe a family out! Then come back! Oh thats if your still alive and not in prison for mansaluter! And the oly way wr could win this
It obvious that you haven't had the pleasure of being in one of these death traps!
Francene, this is supposed to be a technical forum, right? The numbers simply do not support the notion than manual dirivng is the safest option. Not by a long shot.
I am not disputing that the software and hardware problems have to be corrected, not at all. They must be without question. (And in the unintended acceleration case, the fail-safe fix is straightforward.) What I am disputing is the idea that automation, and even the ultimate autonomous vehicle, is something that has to be dreaded.
Take a look at the unintended acceleration statistics, then take a look at annual traffic related fatalities or just accidents. The former might add up to dozens in 5 or 10 years. The latter add up to multiple tens of thousands of deaths per year, and who knows how many hundreds of thousands of accidents PER YEAR. In the US alone.
"Francene, this is supposed to be a technical forum, right? The numbers simply do not support the notion that manual driving is the safest option. Not by a long shot. "
I agree with you that this is a technical forum. I can see no reason why Francene or anyone would want to disagree with you . But I fail to see the connection between your rhetorical question apparently addressed to Francene and the rest of the paragraph.
In my view, discussion of the possible causes of sudden acceleration should go hand in hand with consideration of the effects of SA incidents. The effects of real world SA incidents should motivate the search for causes. Therefore examples of SA incidents such as the two contributed by Francene, should be grist to the mill of effective discussion and may provide indicators as to cause. Each new incident tabled should be welcomed and then put under the forensic microscope. We should be asking: what can we learn from these and other incidents reported?
You follow with three paragraphs that have points that deserve lively discussion. However, I have failed to find any connection here with what was said by Francene in her post and what you say. Am I missing something?
You end with an exhortation: "...let's get real here." I assume this is not an exhortation to Francene, who seems to me well grounded by the two near-miss SA incidents experienced by her family. So who are you exhorting to "get real here" and what are you exhorting them to get real about?
But I fail to see the connection between your rhetorical question apparently addressed to Francene and the rest of the paragraph.
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?
The fact is, what people SHOULD be dreading is not more automation, as much as it is manual driving. Obviously, the control glitches have to be addressed, but adding 2 plus 2 and obtaining 35789 is not the answer either. We should not conclude, from the data obtained so far, that adding more automation in vehicles is a terrible thing.
Because what the actual numbers show is the opposite. Bad as these glitches are, we are far, far worse off with prevalent manual or unassisted driving. That's the bottom line.
@Bert, please cite the study which shows your "bottom line" premise. Has someone actually studied the occurrence rate of the electronic software glitches and the aftermath? OR, has this glaring omission been minimized through a clever and very calculated PR campaign?
Since no one is currently tracking and properly investigating vehicle crashes into buildings, storefronts, and homes because they occur on private property, the evidence that the glitches aren't as deadly is yet to come in. Drivers experiencing a sudden unintended acceleration event in parking lots or from stops is ever-increasing. Try this...do a Google Alert using the words "plowed," "barreled," "careened," "slammed," etc. along with other key words like "building," "home," "storefront," etc. and see what you come up with. There are simply too many vehicle incidents to keep up with. Most all conclude with driver blame when a MECHANICAL cause is ruled out. No one is looking at the complex electronics and driver statements are discounted or discredited. Drivers with concomitant variables are doomed before any evidence is in. Just take a look at the Carol Fedigan Chrysler Jeep case to see what I mean. Outrageous!
Most conclude driver error when there's evidence of drunkenness, being asleep at the wheel, girlfriend/boyfriend problems, texting while driving, turning around to see what the kids are screeching about, high school lost the ball game, or any number of other typical causes, Charlene. It's not like I don't see people weaving in and out of their lane, or catatonic at traffic signals, or tailgating, or displaying any number of other boneheaded driving, which have absolutely nothing to do with any potential "unintended acceleration." To pretend there might be a conspiracy by automakers to hide what would explain boneheaded driving behavior is a tad stretching the point.
Traffic fataliities are very well documented, Charlene. I will wager that a good 99.9 percent of them would have been avoided with better sensors and automatic controls in cars, and will instead be repeated if we insist that manual driving is "safer" and that automation should be dreaded.
Says that in 2012, 10,322 deaths were attributed to drunk driving, and 3,328 to distracted driving (which also injured 421,000), out of 33.561 total fatalities. Both drunk driving and distracted driving, in that one year, drastically outnumbered any unintended acceleration incidents, and both of those types of accident could have be avoided with automatic controls, or reduced with driver assistance.
These are huge numbers, even just in one year. And to be clear, I'll repeat, this is not to excuse Toyota or anyone else. This is only to keep a reasonable perspective on the subject matter of driver assistance or even autonomous driving. Let's not let ourselves get carried away with hyperbole. Software glitches and mechanical glitches can be resolved. Boneheaded behavior by human drivers cannot.
Its a nice expression to accept the fault. As long as you use software for infotainment and ohter fancy dashboard features in automobile the risk is low the time you start using it to control or even access the basic function of automobile thats is to speed up or stop or turn around or reverse, the risk is way too high.
Readers may wish to review the following recent article which I cited in my original post here. The points made are excellent. The information presented is public knowledge.
How Do We Know Driverless Cars Are Safe? Google Says 'Trust Us'
Posted: 07/01/2014 7:23 pm EDT
Bert, if mechanical and electronic glitches "can be resolved," then WHY aren't they? Vehicle owners should not be the "test pilots" prior to critical safety standards being used in the design process. I did not sign up for this "experiment" and I don't think anyone else knowingly has either.
Is there current federal regulation requiring the critical safety standards in vehicles with electronically-controlled throttle systems? Is it on par with the airline industry. If so, please formally cite this information for public consumption.
Bert, if mechanical and electronic glitches "can be resolved," then WHY aren't they?
Again, I don't intend to make excuses for automaker coverups. I'm merely pointing out that your assumption that these glitches are enough to put the kibosh on automatic driver assistance, or ultimetly even autonomous driving, is an assumption not borne out by the facts.
Automakers do resolve the issues. We just had our car recalled for one such (a mechanical problem in this case, not software).
When safety-related systems are designed, the designer has to perform reliability analyses. This is a rigorous field. One typical measure that one derives is "mean time between failures," where the failures are categorized as minor or major. Nothing a human being can design, or even nature as far as that goes, is ever 100 percent perfect. So when conducting these reliability studies, you establish a threshold of acceptance.
One threshold value I have used in the past is "life expectancy of the platform." So for example, you might say that mean time between failures of the brake systems has to be no less than, say, 30 years. And when you actually measure the real systems, you may often discover that the actual value becomes longer than the age of the known universe, when things are designed properly.
I agree that in the rush to put a product out there, some automakers may get sloppy. This shouldn't be excused, as I have repeated many times. And too, sometimes the reliability analysis is flawed, because some component has a defect that the analysis had not accounted for. So this stuff must be addressed with utmost urgency.
The fact remains, however, that as much press hype as these defects get, their occurrence is way, way, way less than the "defect" of manual driving by fallible, panic-prone, distracted, barely trained, and often just plain careless humans.
Bert, how exactly is it proved in these SUA events that the driver has "panicked" and that his/her foot is "stuck" on the accelerator pedal in reaction to said "panic."
In complete fairness to the driver, scientific proof must be presented that the driver's foot was essentially glued to the accelerator for a time period which would enable *multiple* physical barriers to be breached.
As you know, drivers who positively knew at the time of the SUA event that their foot was on the brake have been discounted and discredited by law enforcement and the automakers. The deduction is driver error by reason of some "confusion" or "panic." NOTHING is said about the electronics of the vehicle. The media articles mention that when there is an absence of mechanical failure, the driver is at fault.
I don't understand what scientific method is used to deduce driver "panic" and "confusion." Clearly, after an episode of going from 0 to 70+ mph in a matter of seconds, the driver might be dazed AFTER-THE-FACT. This doesn't translate to automatic driver confusion before the crash, obviously.
Bert, how exactly is it proved in these SUA events that the driver has "panicked" and that his/her foot is "stuck" on the accelerator pedal in reaction to said "panic."
Well, you have to investigate each case, before making the broad-brush claim that the events are so muddled that a determination cannot be made. The Audi case was obvious. There was no physical possibility for the throttle to be on full open, and for the brakes to be unable to overpower the engine. So there you have it. Teh drivers panicked, when they encountered a situation that wasn't TOTALLY familiar to them.
And it's not like I'm saying anything hard to believe here. Many people drive haphazardly. Many people treat their cars carelessly. Automakers have had to accommodate one careless behavior after the other, over the years, to try to make their cars as idiot-proof as possible. One relatively recent example is the tire pressure sensors, which came out of the problems Ford Explorers had, with owners who didn't bother to keep the correct pressure in their tires.
@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.
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."
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.
Excellent points, @Antony Anderson. It bothers me greatly to see actual sudden unintended acceleration accounts discounted as if in an effort to shield the automaker from close scrutiny in the matter. Good scientific inquiry includes ALL the recorded information, especially that given by the driver. I'm seeing in so many of the media articles, this critical information is either being omitted altogether or discounted with the assumption or speculation that the driver is confused.
Electronic Sudden Unintended Acceleration Good on you Honda thanks for being honest."
@Francene: 'Good on you' too.
In my view, each reported Sudden Acceleration incident adds one more piece to the jigsaw puzzle. You have reported:
two incidents in the same RH Drive vehicle
different drivers of significantly different ages and of different sex.
One incident began after slowing down to enter a roundabout, presumably the other incident did not occur at a roundabout.
Both drivers appear to have managed eventually to bring the vehicle under control.
Both drivers were very lucky and survived to tell their tale.
Both incidents have been attributed to driver pedal error by the manufacturer
The manufacturer appears to hav e claimed to have proved that the car never had had a sudden acceleration incident. It would be interesting to know what experiences other complainants have had when reporting sudden acceleration incidents to dealers and manufacturers. Were they believed, or were they given the kind of runaround that Francene's family seem to have been given?
Francene, this is exactly what I have been reading and hearing from Toyota and Lexus sudden unintended acceleration victims. Your loved one is far from alone. Drivers' statement are being discounted over and over again. "Pedal misapplication" is "suspected" or stated without any proof at all.
Let me make it perfectly clear. My comment above is made from the perspective of a very concerned advocate of public safety. I'm not connected to lawyers or plaintiffs in any way economically. I am a private individual. However, indeed, my comments on this matter have attracted negative attention from anonymous entities who cite the "driver error" theory using age, gender, or medical status as an excuse for the SUA event. I've always used my real name. I'm puzzled why the "corporate-protecting trolls" can't do the same.
Oddly, the anonymous trolls cite the facts I present as "junk science." There seems to be a well-orchestrated effort to discount the findings of the world renowned experts in order to shield the automaker, in this case Toyota, from close scrutiny where ELECTRONIC sudden unintended acceleration is concerned. This greatly concerns me as "cover-up" comes to mind.
I have posted various comments on the Toyota and Lexus SUA issue in order to stimulate much-needed public dialogue about the current safety standards in the auto industry, particularly in the electronic throttle control system. The lack of strict safety standards in these newer complex systems has me concerned. As someone with a strong science background, I think there are still many tough questions to be answered. I do not wish to be, nor do I wish any of my loved ones to be, the "test pilots" for this complex, inherently-flawed electronic throttle control system software. I did not sign up to be an experimental "guinea pig" and I know no one else has either. I'm certain that Francene is in a state of shock to learn that after-the-fact, her loved one has been such a victim.
I appreciate my comments being taken on the merits of the information presented. Continued inquiry is needed, as any scientist worth his or her salt will tell you, to uncover the critical safety information.
You will not convince me that "driver error" explains these terrifying events described by similarly-affected vehicle owners. The science isn't there to support it. Speculation has no place in this very serious, potentially deadly matter. Coercion of drivers to believe or to state that they experienced pedal misapplication is unconscionable. I know that in one high profile situation a Lexus owner was visited by several flown-in Toyota officials in an effort to "convince" her she was mistaken about the pedal she pressed.
How often is the driver's statement discounted? How often is the lack of MECHANICAL failure the basis for discounting what the driver states happened? More importantly, how well trained are the investigators in these SUA events? Do they possess the skill level to be able to identify ELECTRONIC failures in these complex software-controlled throttle control systems?
There are so many more unanswered questions. As law enforcement speculate or "suspect" potential causes of these crashes and the media reports immediately based on this speculation, it's easy to see that the vehicle drivers' statements are not given due credence.
The bigger picture isn't being assessed. This isn't about simple "driver error." It isn't simply a mechanically-based issue any longer. In the case of the Toyota and Lexus EDR, an expert found inconsistencies and inaccuracies. However, the EDR results have been used to erroneously incriminate the driver, negating his/her experience.
Let's not forget that Toyota has historically and admittedly hidden information. It has admitted to lying. Are we now to accept "driver error" because the automaker tells its customer this is what must have happened...even when he/she knows differently?
Far more needs to be explored in these cases. Period.
Mr. Pell, I think it unfair to assume that my comments are "spam" or that I am a "troll." What comes to my mind is the way driver experiences are discounted and the deduction of "driver error" is made even when it directly counters the recorded driver statements, particularly in Toyota and Lexus sudden unintended acceleration events.
Let's face it squarely. Assumptions have no place in the potentially deadly SUA matter.
Rich Pell, I don't intend to make personal judgements about commenters as you have chosen to do. It serves absolutely no purpose except to attempt to discredit and discount comments. I think it is also against the rules on such sites to participate in global negative generalizations about individual commenters.
I'd appreciate the discussion to center around the vehicle critical safety standards as this was the purpose of my original comment. I specifically cited findings of experts in the field.
Unfortunately, Michael Barr's 300-page findings about Toyota's glitchy ETCS-i are part of *sealed-court documents* in the consumer-victory Oklahoma court case on a runaway 2005 Toyota Camry. Such court-sealed documents prevent the public from learning the truth in a timely manner. This is not only unfortunate but a detriment to public safety. No one but the automaker benefits from hidden key court documents which highlight unsafe situations in vehicles still on the road.
So, I just ask that you not make this about me personally, Mr. Pell. Readers can decide what your motives are for doing this.
Interestingly enough, in many of the sudden unintended acceleration cases covered in the media currently, the drivers are often victims of character assassination before any evidence is revealed. These potentially defaming headlines are published via law enforcement speculation before any *scientific* data is in.
As I mentioned before, I believe thinking like a scientist is essential. Probing questions need to asked and properly answered. Driver character assassination is nothing more than a deflection away for the potential fatal flaws in the affected vehicles.
Mr. Pell, the discussion is about complex electronically-controlled vehicles. In a rather simplistic example, the other day my grandson had a battery-operated bubble-blower working just fine. However, when it came time to turn it off, nothing worked. The machine kept going on its own until I removed one of the batteries.
Obviously, there is no glitchy software there. However, I continue to experience issues off and on with my software-driven electronic devices. I have several I use daily. In many instances, I must reboot them to reset them. This is expected, isn't it, with any electronically-driven device.
The difference is that electronic glitches in vehicles which can result in fatalities is not acceptable under any conditions. The fail-safes have been shown in particular cases to be ineffective and most likely auto consumers are unaware of this possibility. The mantra is that braking will always stop the vehicles if an electronic glitch occurs...that the open throttle will be effectively countered. Unfortunately, drivers have revealed time and again that this isn't the case.
I choose not to discount or discredit what the vehicle owners are telling us. One has only to look at the complaints filed to see the uncanny similarity of the experiences of these SUA victims. This is what NHTSA is supposed to be doing, isn't it...looking for trends in the vehicle owner complaints? The whole NHTSA safety issue is currently under fire in the faulty ignition switch saga. Prior to that, NHTSA came under fire regarding the Toyota sudden unintended acceleration debacle. I'm certain the public is a bit skeptical about the preservation of its safety on the roads based on recent findings of cover-up and continued deceit.
Much more public debate and dialogue is needed. Continued use of the scientific method is needed. The short duration NHTSA/NASA study into sudden unintended acceleration was shown to be flawed. Far more study is needed by experts. Does NHTSA have such experienced embedded software experts? I asked the question before but as yet haven't seen the response.
Bert you might wish to review the following item.
A Look Back at the Audi 5000 and Unintended Acceleration
Friday, March 14th, 2014
The "look back" is a rather vague reference to an "idle stabilization" mechaniosm, i.e. not a full-open throttle system, which may have startled drivers into planting their foot on the accelerator pedal, thinking it was the brake pedal, because the pedal placement was slightly shifted compared with other cars.
That latter part is what I remembered.
The article isn't sure whether this Audi system was firmware operated or not. Which isn't that important. I had a similar experience in a Fiat, with a mechanical cable-operated hand throttle, which bound up the accelerator pedal linkage at one point, keeping the idle speed up to above 2000 RPM when I was attempting to slow down for a traffic signal. The immediate remedy was push clutch, push brake, shut off ignition. Then disconnect the hand throttle altogether, to keep this from recurring.
Whatever the catalyst may have been in the Audi case, the sudden full throttle acceleration was caused by driver error. Only pointing out that human drivers can be unpredictable, and that we need better systems, rather than nothing at all, to assist, if not take over.
Bert, thank you for citing that electronic glitches do occur in vehicles. However, are you implying that any such events in a vehicle on the highway or parking lot are acceptable?
You cite that the occurrence rate "must be miniscule." How exactly would this be known? If one just reads the events of crashes of vehicles into buildings, storefronts, and homes in the media, it is easy to see that investigators look at the mechanical causes of SUA. When none are found, they may get the automaker to "interpret" the EDR. However, it has been shown by an expert in the field that the Toyota EDR has been inconsistent and inaccurate.
How do we know the incidence rate is necessarily "miniscule?" Is anyone specifically trying to obtain the data for ELECTRONIC malfunctions in the throttle control system software?
So many vehicle owners are citing occurrences of sudden unintended acceleration in parking lots and from stops at lights or stop signs. Vehicles are revving loudly and plowing through multiple physical obstacles...some going deep inside buildings, storefronts, and homes. The wheels continue to spin in some of these vehicles even when the driver is out of them.
Who is studying these cases and examining the electronics in the vehicles? I don't mean superficially but complexly?
I consulted with Rob Reiter and Mark Wright of storefrontcrashes.com. I figured since they had information about some of these crashes online that they might be conducting a study of some sort. Rob Reiter says the organization doesn't do any official studies. They just gather information from media reports and police reports.
The problem I found with this compilation of private property crash information is that there is no category of crash cause related to a vehicle malfunction.
In all the information I read on this site, I could only find "driver error" listed. Even when the driver firmly held to his/her statement that the vehicle accelerated on its own and could not be stopped by the brakes, the information presented concludes that the driver is at fault.
Rob Reiter and Mark Wright emphasize that there is a need for storefront barriers. While a noble suggestion and better than nothing at all, this application does not solve a potential issue with driver-cited SUA. The barriers may or may not solve the symptom; they do nothing to prevent the cause. Strict safety standards are needed for this. However, in none of the cases could I find information showing that the electronics had been properly investigated.
Law enforcement have no formal training in terms of the electronics in these complex vehicles, do they? They have a rather subjective check-off area on many of the police reports. Here the officers can professionally speculate a possible cause of the crash. Some reasons might include speculation about a pre-existing or detected medical condition, medications the driver might be taking, age-related issues including mental state, or other possible influences affecting the driver.
My question is how much formal training do these officers have to make potential life-altering judgements? I know as a former registered nurse, I would not be permitted to make final judgments about a medical condition. My formal training at a four-year university might allow me to speculate and apply scientific findings, but I am not technically qualified to do so. Are these officers qualified to do so? Most of the public may not know that such check-off judgements on police reports are a fairly recent addition and this varies by jurisdiction.
In this age of complex electronically-controlled vehicles, the omission of a formal cause related to a possible vehicle malfunction is noteworthy. Why is it OK for investigators to speculate about a variety of driver-caused SUA events but not OK to do so about vehicle malfunction causes...particularly when the driver's statements indicate this potential? Why are the drivers "confused" while the vehicle electronics are totally ignored? THIS makes no scientific sense.
Bert, thank you for citing that electronic glitches do occur in vehicles. However, are you implying that any such events in a vehicle on the highway or parking lot are acceptable?
Once again, NO. I never implied any such thing, in any post.
Why is it OK for investigators to speculate about a variety of driver-caused SUA events but not OK to do so about vehicle malfunction causes...particularly when the driver's statements indicate this potential?
Sorry, but if drunk driving is involved, no amount of make-believe "blame the faceless company because it's easy to do and makes me sound virtuous" fabricated excuse is credible. The occurrences of unintended acceleration or other car-related causes, add them up all you like, won't come close to the annual accident statistics.
Just the fact that humans only have two eyes in front of their face, and those are the only sensors manual driving depends on, should be enough to give any reasonable person pause. That's a huge design limitation. Maybe I should again post the YouTube videos of accidents taking place, just to show you how people unassisted by automation are hopeless at avoiding accidents.
Bert, how exactly am I going to "add up the occurrences" of electronically-induced sudden unintended acceleration crashes if no one is formally examining the role of ELECTRONICS as a cause in said crashes? It seems the lid is very, very tight on NOT exposing such information. Period.
Bert, how exactly am I going to "add up the occurrences" of electronically-induced sudden unintended acceleration crashes if no one is formally examining the role of ELECTRONICS as a cause in said crashes?
As I said, this is supposed to be a technical forum, Charlene. Just fabricating data won't cut it.
You have to do what Michael Barr did, to find the actual mechanism at play, if the accident was so unexplained as to call for such arcane mechanism. The vast majority of accidents are much more easily explained, as I'm confident you would discover.
Even in that Toyota software glitch case, the explanation was hardly one to suggest multiple thousands of occurrences annually, to compete with human ineptness.
Anyway, to get back to my original point, my objection is to the notion that more automation in cars is more dangerous that just going on with manual, unassisted driving. That is the sort of knee-jerk reaction that is not supported by the facts.
Bert, exactly my point. This IS a technical forum. Blaming drivers who state steadfastly that the vehicles are accelerating despite braking is inappropriate and totally unscientific. Period.
When a vehicle driver states emphatically certain occurrences at the time of a sudden unintended acceleration event, his statements must be followed with a thorough examination of the electronics in the vehicle. Media, law enforcement, and automakers cannot make broad brush assumptions that it must be the driver's confusion or panic that caused the crash rather than the reverse.
Stating globally that drivers are in error without a complete mechanical and electronic investigation is a travesty. No doubt you know that the appropriately trained experts are extremely costly so driver accessibility is limited. Should the drivers simply be incriminated as a result? After all, this conclusion is so much easier to make. Then, each crash can be handled by the automaker on a case-by-case basis. No need to do a costly vehicle testing and a possible more costly vehicle recall.
When a vehicle driver states emphatically certain occurrences at the time of a sudden unintended acceleration event, his statements must be followed with a thorough examination of the electronics in the vehicle.
So, are you implying by this that unintended acceleration accidents, or accidents where the driver is claiming unintended acceleration was the cause, add up to anything approaching 10,000 annually? Because that's what it would take, just to equal the number of fatalities caused by drunk driving. Fatalities, not just mere accidents with injuries. I'm making it easy for you.
If you can't make that claim, I would suggest that concluding that automatic driver assistance, or autonomous driving, is too dangerous to pursue, is mere hyperbole.
Bert, I did not know that we are looking for an easier way to explain the cause of these very complex crashes. If you are referring to simply blaming the vehicle owner, especially if it contradicts what he/she states happened, then I challenge that illogical and unscientific methodology.
With the advent of these very complex electronic software-controlled vehicles, simple incomplete and unscientific explanations simply fly out the window.
Public dialogue...lots of it...is needed if scientifically-baseless driver incrimination is the easiest way to go to close the case. Public scrutiny of police reports is in order. Even more tough questions must be asked. The consequences for drivers is worrisome. As you know, jail time has been given to drivers in cases of death or serious injury of people involved without a thorough examination (not even a mention of it) of the electronic software in the throttle system.
Something is gravely amiss there.
"I did not know that we are looking for an easier way to explain the cause of these very complex crashes."
In objective scientific inquiry it is always appropriate to look for the simplest explanations for things, at least as a starting point, based on the evidence available. Of course this approach doesn't lend itself to those who are more interested in pushing an agenda than getting to the truth of a matter.
I beg to differ, respectfully, @rich.pell. A too-simplistic, subjective explanation certainly is providing an open agenda for an automaker who may have a good reason to distract attention away from complex engine throttle control system software glitches. Blaming vehicle drivers for terrifying electronic sudden unintended acceleration events without any evidence is pushing the "pedal misapplication" agenda along. Countering driver statements about what happened is common when no *mechanical* cause for SUA is found. Objectivity is lost to subjectivity. The "driver error" theory lacks a scientific foundation. Drivers are incriminated without thorough examination of the vehicle electronics. Unfortunately, as you know, absence of proof is not proof of absence when you are talking about electronic problems.
Bert, "fabrication of data won't cut it," as you say. This includes blaming the driver just because the more complex causes of sudden unintended acceleration have not been examined. It is clear to me that the buying public doesn't know how vehicles differ technically than they did just over a decade ago. They don't understand the complexity of their newer software-controlled vehicles.
Bert, how much "data fabrication" do you think an automaker does? Case in point...back in the early 2000s, Toyota spokesperson, Mike Michels, stated over and over that Toyota had not seen "a single case of engine oil sludge in a properly maintained vehicle." OK. Fine. What's the problem, then?
Well, vehicle owners began stating over and over that Toyota would not even look at their oil change receipts within the warranty period when engine oil sludge destroyed their engines. In fact, the dealerships would NOT look at the receipts. Why? They did not want to know about "a single case" because then Mr. Michels couldn't recite the Toyota mantra. This was despite the fact that an "Engine Oil Sludge Policy" link (related to auctioned Toyota and Lexus vehicles) was posted on the Toyota Financial Services website prior to any online furor about the situation. I actually posted the link but within 48 hours it was removed from the TFS website.
Deja vu now as Toyota and Lexus vehicle owners are told nothing is wrong with their vehicles when they duly report the sometimes multiple occurrences of sudden unintended acceleration? Victims report being frustrated that nothing is being done by the manufacturer formally to address their continued complaints.
So could the absence of properly addressing vehicle owner complaints of sudden unintended acceleration after the floor mat and sticky accelerator pedal recall be considered "fabrication of data"...as in denial a problem exists based on vehicle owner complaints?
Some Toyota and Lexus owners argue that there is an economic reason for zero accumulation of data pointing to a vehicle malfunction in either the engine oil sludge or sudden unintended acceleration debacles. Rightly so.
Charlene, please separate your posts into paragraphs.
Let me state first of all, that I was not one of those who chanted the "common wisdom" of how wonderful Toyotas were, in the recent past when this was what the average clueless joe was preaching. They're so wonderful, they're so reliable, whatever. I've always found them to be rather dull. And I'm also not going to buy the new hype. My knee-jerk reaction is always to dismiss urban myths, or whatever the mindless mantra du jour might be.
Now you're deflecting the discussion into an unrelated topic, perhaps in the hopes that this strengthens the unintended acceleration hysteria? But to what end? I already said that my objection was the frenetic alarmism over driver assistance or autonomous driving, and not to make excuses for anyone (much less Toyota). Your post on braking distances could have been more nuanced, explaining what the factors at play are.
The large number of Toyotas on the road is only proof that people behave like mindless lemmings, no?
Bert, if you read my comments above, I am unable to post with my paragraphing intact. I'm an educator who is very particular about my writing. All I can do is apologize for this situation...at least until I figure out how to counter the electronic glitch;)
@Charlene - Some time ago I had the same problem (no paragraphs). A temporary solution as I remember was to press enter twice at the end of a paragraph, not just once. I think the problem turned out to be that I was using Internet Explorer 6, I now use Google Chrome for EETimes and it works fine.
When you post you should have a fairly large box with text handling icons at the bottom (Bold, Italic, Underline etc). If you don't have this they you're in text only mode and that's the problem. Try Chrome, it's an easy download and it does not have to be your default browser.
@David, thank you for the suggestions. I really appreciate the brainstorming. I actually did try the double-spacing after paragraphs but to no avail. I will look into the other ideas next. I do not have the options you mention at the bottom, so that must be the problem. Thanks, again!
@Charlene...if nothing else, try using a computer at an internet cafe or a friend, and see if you get the same problem, You don't say which browser you do use, but EET has always been notoriously IE-unfriendly, which is why I changed.
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:(
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.
Readers need to consider that even if the brakes do work in cases of unintended acceleration, the stopping distances are much longer than needed for safety's sake.
Video: Consumer Reports demonstrates how "brake override" stops runaway cars
Mar 23, 2010 8:28 PM
(5:56 min video – note stopping distances and pedal pressure required)
(140 feet to 513 feet – 3.66 times longer)
GM tests Pontiac Vibe brakes against unintended acceleration in wake of Matrix recall
By Michael Harley
Posted Feb 2nd 2010 12:58PM
(127 feet to 507 feet – 3.99 times longer)
Readers need to consider that even if the brakes do work in cases of unintended acceleration, the stopping distances are much longer than needed for safety's sake.
Even that is not strictly true, Charlene.
First of all, if the throttle is full open and you slam on the brake once, in most cars, the braking distance will be only slightly longer. Why? Because the vacuum assist will still work, and brakes easily overpower the engine. It's when you pump the brakes on full throttle that you lose that vacuum assist. Car and Driver measured this, when the Audi case was hot.
In the special case of the Toyota system, the damning condition was one that in certain special instances, when the throttle went full open unintentionally, the brakes were not functional UNLESS you pumped them once. So that was particularly serious.
But much more importantly, there is a simple fix to this. Application of brakes should ALWAYS be accompanied by throttle command down to idle, irrespective of the accelerator pedal sensor indication, as an always-enabled fail-safe measure. That can be a software function with mechanical override, or just a mechanical function.
There's nothing wrong with learning lessons, as long as the carmakers follow through. Automation in cars can be made infinitely more safe than manual driving, I repeat again.
I'm glad you brought up the Audi SUA issue. Based on your comment, I guess you probably don't know that at the time and over the years, a lot of misinformation has been spread about that 1989 NHTSA investigation and its findings. Just as in the Toyota SUA investigation, there was significant spin in the media regarding the NHTSA study conclusions.
If you go Michael Barr's website here, you will find a discussion of the Audi case:
You may remember that the Audi drivers were accused of "pedal misapplication." One article written in 2007 claimed that the NHTSA study "exonerated Audi."
In fact, the NHTSA study did find a defect in the affected Audi vehicles. Here is an excerpt from the actual NHTSA study as cited on Michael Barr's website:
"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.
According to Michael Barr, it is unclear whether the Audi ECU in question was all electronic or if it may have had embedded software. He points out that it is unclear what the percentages of short-duration UA and long-duration UA were. Barr says if there were more short-duration UA events, it begs the question "did the NHTSA and the public learn the right lessons?"
"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.
@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!
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.
An important consequence of the Audi problems was that car designs were required to have the brake pedal pressed before moving the automatic transmission out of Park. In other words, a "mechanical" interlock to prevent unintended acceleration due to pedal confusion or whatever else was causing it. The problem then disappeared. We something similar to deal with these SUA cases.
Another fine article from EE Times, one of the few publications that has dared to expose the facts about electronic issues associated with unintended acceleration. And right on for Charlene Blake's commentary.
Here is another example (albeit for buses) of a software recall for unintended acceleration, it is also quite recent from May 2014.
Report Receipt Date: MAY 28, 2014 NHTSA Campaign Number: 14V303000 Component(s): POWER TRAIN Potential Number of Units Affected: 2
Manufacturer: Champion Bus, Inc.
SUMMARY: Champion Bus, Inc. (Champion) is recalling certain model year 2014 Defender shuttle buses built on Freightliner M2 chassis, equipped with Eaton-brand hybrid automated transmissions. The software controlling the affected transmissions may improperly raise the vehicle's engine speed during downshifts without the driver's input.
CONSEQUENCE: The increase in engine speed may result in unintended acceleration, increasing the risk of a crash.
It looks like that these types of problem will recur. It will be nice to have drvier's trained for this type of problems to mitigate the risk, just like other driving lessons. Are there suggested list for this?
Your suggestion is useful: forewarned is forearmed. My recent article on Sudden Acceleration in IEEE ACCESS, downloadable as a PDF file, PART V sets out to answer the question: "What practical measures might either minimise the risk of sudden acceleration incidents occurring or reduce their severity if they should occur?"
I suggest that drivers should have the Cold Charging Ampere (CCA) rating of their vehicle's battery measured regularly. If it falls too far from the rated value, they should replace the battery with a good quality battery of the same or higher CCA rating. A battery in good condition and fully charged will minimise sudden voltage dips when heavy current loads come on and therefore will minimise the magnitude of any glitches that might upset the sensitive vehicle electronics. I also suggest changing brake fluid regularly because this keeps the moisture content low and maintains the boiling point at a sufficiently high temperature to avoid the formation of vapour locks. This would give the driver faced with a SA incident a better chance of bringing the vehicle under control by braking. Drivers should not pump the brakes because they will lose vacuum assist very quickly.
"Put the car in neutral. No matter the RPMs of an engine, a car cannot accelerate without being in gear. If putting the car in neutral fails, shut off the engine (NOTE, shutting off the engine while a car is moving can be dangerous, as you will lose power-steering and brake-assist.... this method should be a last resort only). Once you have the car under control, shift it to park and turn off the engine. This should clear the fault. In many cases of sudden acceleration, the brakes alone are not enough to stop a car at wide open throttle. As a result, shifting to neutral is always the best option."
In my opinion, this advice, or something similar, should be provided in the owner's manual.
I also suggest in my paper (1) that learner drivers should be informed about the potential risks of sudden acceleration and should be trained how to react (2) Pedestrians should be warned that any stationary vehicle should be approached with caution because of its latent potential to suddenly accelerate(3) Traffic controllers and traffic police should be trained in how best to deal with runaway vehicles. The Police in the United Arab Emirates seem fairly well organized in this respect
"In a similar incident in Saudi Arabia last month, police triggered the automatic brakes of a Toyota Land Cruiser stuck in cruise control at 210kph by shooting out the rear windscreen, according to the Saudi newspaper Al Rayat."
In my opinion we would be well advised to treat the modern car fitted with an electronic throttle with the respect that our forebears used to treat a team of horses. If a car should get an electronic hissy fit it will have the potential kick of several hundred horses and might well kick us to kingdom come! And there must surely be a better fail safe of last resort than shooting out the rear windscreen!
Yes, a kill switch that is completely independent of the engine control electronics would be feasible. One or two owners are on record as having fitted them. A kill switch should only substantially reduce the engine torque so that the brakes become more effectivebut should not cut off power altogether. A Toyota (USP 4.995,364 Feb 26 1991) shows a sub throttle valve in series with the main throttle valve which is independently controlled and "takes over" if the main throttle goes uncommanded to the open position. Some high performance cars have a "slam shut" valve in series with the main throttle that operates in conjunction with the ABS system. Another possibility might be a pressure relief valve in the torque converter to increase the slip and hence reduce the transmitted torque. A vehicle with a manual gearbox already has a fail-safe in the clutch. It is salutary to think that in the modern automobile it is the driver who is the fail safe for the throttle electronics, rather than vice-versa!
@Antony: Like space electronics, why not auto vendor employ redundancy concept for this? As electronics is not that expensive, three systems running in parallel will give good chnace of preventing fatality. This will employ judgement of majority.
I think it would be better to force the throttle to idle position, under all circumstances, when brakes are applied, than it is to have emergency measures such as pushing in the clutch or messing with torque converter pressure, when the throttle might be at the full open position. That's one good way to tear an engine apart, with full throttle and no load. Such a brake override would be one of those interlock mechanisms that have become ever more prevalent, such as the mechanism that prevents an automatic transmission from being moved out of the "park" position, unless the brake is applied. It always takes hard lessons to introduce these features, and there will always be those who complain, but we don't question them so much after the fact.
As a side note, the throttle at idle position doesn't mean the engine goes down to idle, as long as the car is moving and the transmission is engaged. So there's no issue with things like the power steering hydraulic pump and other similar equipment that needs to stay pressurized when the car is moving rapidly.
There are already cars on the road now that will override driver commands and apply the brakes, if they sense a stationary object dead ahead. So even in the (soon to be considered reckless) era of manual driving, the driver is gradually NOT playing a part as the fail-safe control mechanism.
I am unwilling to take responsibility for learning how to mitigate a potentially deadly consequence of owning a poorly-designed vehicle. Such vehicles should not be on the road until the critical safety standards are designed into them. It is absurd to ask the driver to take the potential deadly roller coaster ride and then try to stop it...or not. There is no logic behind this way of thinking. By "teaching" vehicle owners to react to a potentially deadly sequence of events, you are in effect minimizing the matter. This is the same as asking GM owners to go ahead and drive their defective ignition switch vehicles while they wait for the repair. Maybe they will encounter certain death...or not...based on their reaction to the failure. WHO should be asked to take such a risk and WHY?
I was very interested in this article, given that I drive my Honda Insight pretty much every day. It sounds like there is a good chance that it will also be seeing a recall at some point.
That being said, I can't say that I have ever experienced anything like this. I have noticed an anomaly in the transmission - under very specific circumstances it gets stuck in "first" gear. The quotes are there because the car actually has a continuously-variable transmission. I learned very quickly to shift when that happens, and it drops into the correct range.
Does this recall mean that I should not drive the car? I already have close to 100,000 miles on it. The point that was made by others regarding relative risk is one that I second wholeheartedly. People drivers do random stupid things. Computer drivers may also do random bad things, but the probability of them happening is orders of magnitude lower. We evaluate the risk as being higher because we fear the lack of control involved.
When the carmakers come forward to announce gitches in their car, there are at least 2 effects. Firstly, consumers will start building up concern on the latest and greatest technology that are introduced into the model. It may hurt the sales of the model for sometimes. Secondly, the honesty proves to the public that the automaker value the importance of safety.
As the industry moving towards "intelligence" - smart car, smart city, smart everything, electronics and software become a crucial component. There will more models of car that will be equipped with different kind of electronic system in the coming years. On the other hands, there seems to be no bug free software. Question is how the automakers be able to put the process together better to identify the potential bug earlier and what they can do as a precaution to mitigate any bugs that slip through the system test. Similarly, shall the safety test be revised and improved in the government side?
I'll buy your point that a zebra can't change its stripes. What I can't figure out is why everyone seemed to not see a zebra there to begin with.
This Toyota thing is particularly galling to me, because our ever-clueless management was oh so enamored with "the Toyota way" that we were subjected to a long and boring course on how they managed their "high reliability" achievements. So now here we are, helping to create the new, utterly contradictory hysteria.
@Bert, I don't know what you mean by "hysteria." I find it interesting that you used that description. Could you explain?
The reason I bring this up is because the trolls countering the existence of a Toyota engine oil sludge issue back in early 2001 used that word often. At one point, one of them (who tracked my comments online and offered personally defamatory remarks to them) stated that I "single-handedly created the Toyota engine oil sludge HOAX"...his exact words including capitalization emphasis. Odd, don't you think since the Toyota and Lexus engine oil sludge matter started before I began commentary and continued long past that point?
I didn't intend to switch the subject here, but I did intend to highlight the similarities of the online dialogue in each case. I do not see where "hysteria" is a part of this discussion. It certainly did not pan out that a "HOAX" was part of the Toyota engine oil sludge matter.
Trying to respectfully understand your thinking. I'd certainly be offended if your premise is that I am promoting some sort of "hysteria." My commentary should not and cannot be reduced to that erroneous description.
If , OTOH, my commentary promotes critically-needed questions and on-going public dialogue, then I have no problems with that. I would question anyone who would choose to stifle such dialogue. Freedom of speech still exists, or so I assume;)
Yes, you know, "hysteria," or "feeding frenzy." Whether it was the exaggerated and utterly clueless idea that Toyotas were particularly reliable previously, or the new normal that they are pieces of junk today.
Let me give you an in-home appliance example. Just because Maytag had this clever ad some years ago, of the lonely Maytag repairman, it doesn't mean we all have to drink that coolaid. According to our repairman, Maytag machines have exactly the same inner valve assembly (whatever the name is of that part) as several other brands, which makes no more or less reliable. And yet, the "common wisdom" repeated by many was that they are, or were, something special.
I much prefer seeing specifics, either way, rather than broad brush rants or raves that elicit nodding heads among the faithful.
Bert, absolutely, there is no reason for "clueless" followings. I advocate that all consumers do their homework. This is why I feel it critical to include ALL information, including the driver's exact words as to what happened in the sudden unintended acceleration events. The online vehicle owner complaints must be addressed as well. Global generalizations that the problem of SUA is simply a matter of driver error, elderly pedal misapplication, an existing medical condition or the fact that a person has prescription meds (what are blood pressure pills to blame?!?) are just a deflection away from the potential vehicle-caused possibilities...especially the complex electronically-controlled throttle system.
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.
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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