AuthorTopic: $1 Million Prize For Anyone To Prove Cause of Toyota's Runaway Cars  (Read 2842 times)

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Offline Saffy

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http://spectrum.ieee.org/riskfactor/green-tech/advanced-cars/1-million-prize-for-anyone-to-prove-cause-of-toyotas-runaway-cars-?

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Trying to shed more light on the cause of sudden acceleration, Edmunds.com (which "lists new car prices, used car prices, car comparisons, car buying advice, car ratings, car values, auto leasing") is offering $1 million to anyone who, under controlled conditions, can "re-create unintended acceleration in a car and then solve that problem and prove the whole thing" to the company, its CEO announced yesterday. The LA Times reports that the competition will begin next month after the details are worked out.

right lads - lets get to it
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Offline Disco Matt

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I can actually see Top Gear having a go at this. Although I suspect the excuse to trash a Pious or two would play a part in it!  :lol:

I reckon it may be carpet-related, I know I've driven cars where the mat has shifted and catches when you release the clutch, which is downright disturbing until you work out what's going on. You're not used to feeling the carpet come up a bit when you release the clutch...
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Offline muddyjames

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when I was a postie and we had the escort vans, with getting in and out every few seconds, the carpet mat slipped and caught the accelerator occasionally. Was quiet wierd but the first thing I did was dip the clutch. That will stop any car running away surely at any revs?
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Offline Disco Matt

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I think most of the cases have been with automatics. I'm puzzled why they couldn't select neutral or lock the box down though - surely locking it down to first and then grinding along a barrier (or down a verge) would bring you to a fairly controlled stop, even if you can't select neutral while moving?

I get the distinct impression that the media, as usual, have picked up on the people who panicked rather than those who said "Yeah, it was a bit scary but I just put it in neutral, rolled to a stop, and switched off".
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Offline Little-Green-Machine

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i had a speedo cable get caught under the throttle on a kawasaki mule, bit scary as there auto haha , could it be something that simple?
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Offline topless matt

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I have a friend that works at toyota and the interesting thing is that the components that have failed on the cars are NOT actually made by toyota.
They are a product bought in that has malfunctioned, many other companies buy thiese parts in that have failed but toyota have taken it upon themselves to not try and shift the blame and try to help their customers.
All good grace to them for fixing a problem with a part that they dont produce, only fit!
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Offline dxmedia

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10 000 000 lines of computer code to read (that's about correct for a modern cars computer systems - yota's are closed source so you'd need to reverse engineer it to begin with) to find the glitch.

To put the problem into perspective, you press the window up button and your seat moves forward.  Go on, everything is wired correctly, go fix...  Oh only does it once every 100 000 000 times.
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Offline Range Rover Blues

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They are drive by wire throttle, so it's probably an electricery fault or an electro-mechanical problem like pressing the gas pedal slightly sideways because the car isn't actually big enough to sit with your legs straight out.

Or maybe the drivers just awoke form a coma and realised where they were, "OH MY GOD, I'M IN A TOYOTA AAAAARRGHHH".
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Offline dxmedia

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Far more compliacted than that,

Pot on the top of the throttle pedal sends a reading to the EUC.

The ECU measures that, the engine speed, the car speed, the gearbox output... and then tells the engine to increase it's revs by 'x' amount, whether there is a load on the engine, how quick the throttle was depressed to decide if a down shift is needed. If a down shift is needed, a gentle one, 1 gear, 2 gears, how much use of the torque convertor... If it's a prius, is the electric motor added to the acceleration, is the regenerative charging circuit disabled for extra power...


1 line of code wrong in that, such as if this = this then this +that does this in the case of that+ that -that < all logic statments.

It's not the cable getting stuck, the mat riding over the pedal, or a sticky butterfly valve. it's far far more complicated.


This is why aeronautical computer systems are soooooo expensive - they have been tested for all faults. Windows NT4 is still commonly used due to there being variations where the bugs have all been removed.  Windows Vista isn't an option ;)
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Offline Saffy

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Who says it's a coding error? why not random corruption of a system from stray RF noise from a passing transmitter or a random thermal effect degrading a signal path or other such random things.
Anyhow... they not asking to find cause of bug be it a piece of code or what ever, they are asking for the test environment where the symptoms of the bug can replicated on demand. You *could* hit upon that without looking at one scrap of decompiled code but it might cost more that the 'prize' money to set up for it if seriously going to have a stab at it... but ya be famous.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2010, 12:12:40 by Saffy »
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Offline dxmedia

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Who says it's a coding error? why not random corruption of a system from stray RF noise from a passing transmitter or a random thermal effect degrading a signal path or other such random things.
Anyhow... they not asking to find cause of bug be it a piece of code or what ever, they are asking for the test environment where the symptoms of the bug can replicated on demand. You *could* hit upon that without looking at one scrap of decompiled code but it might cost more that the 'prize' money to set up for it if seriously going to have a stab at it... but ya be famous.

Two other very vaild reasons, but the fix is a software upgrade on the prius 3 ;)


What it isn't though is a trapped cable, sticky butterfly or a pivot in need of some oil. Little bit more than a common landy problem ;)

The prize money is insignificant compaired to the cost to toyota though.
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Offline Range Rover Blues

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Far more compliacted than that,

Pot on the top of the throttle pedal sends a reading to the EUC.

Oh I know how complicated Electronic Engine Management systems are, I used to work on them in development when I worked for Ford.  All I can say about that is if it had a Blue Oval, this wouldn't have happened.  They test things to death.
Then they pay engineers to drive them to death, if anything nasty shows up they test it some more.

They also have one of the most advanced EEM systems in the industry, so good it has been used by F1 teams.

the software "fix" might indicate a probelm in the original software, or it's a safety net for a number of other possible causes.  I'm surprised that applying the brake doesn't cut the throttle like it does on the Passat for example.  Maybe it does now.
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Offline tim_aka_tim

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Toyota's problem is not really about ECUs and runaway cars. They're just a symptom of what
has apparently been going on. This morning, CNN carried this story about a whistleblower
that has emerged. This ex-Toyota lawyer apparently has documents to prove that they have
been systematically obstructing courts from obtaining internal documents that they were legally
entitled to.

Specifically, a 17 year old became paralysed when her Camry rolled and the roof collapsed. This
is not allowed in the US - the roof must support the weight of the car in the event of a rollover.
Toyota were asked to supply incriminating documents, so settled out of court so they didn't have
to. Apparently the roof on this Camry was too thin.

Apparently the lawyer was told by his superiors that he was to protect internal documents from
the courts at all costs, using fair means or foul.

Offline Dave69

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Far more compliacted than that,

Pot on the top of the throttle pedal sends a reading to the EUC.

Oh I know how complicated Electronic Engine Management systems are, I used to work on them in development when I worked for Ford.  All I can say about that is if it had a Blue Oval, this wouldn't have happened.  They test things to death.
Then they pay engineers to drive them to death, if anything nasty shows up they test it some more.

They also have one of the most advanced EEM systems in the industry, so good it has been used by F1 teams.

the software "fix" might indicate a probelm in the original software, or it's a safety net for a number of other possible causes.  I'm surprised that applying the brake doesn't cut the throttle like it does on the Passat for example.  Maybe it does now.

the blue Oval aren't the only can manufacturer that tests their products to death. All manufacturers who supply cars to the european market do exactly the same. Some do certain areas more and some do less. Toyota run their own F1 team so the engine controls are devloped there before they are put onto road vehicles. With the prius running a canbus system which is connected to everything it is physically impossible to fix every mistake in the control coding by the time of a new product launch. As with every car maker they issue service updates to be implemented at servicing. this runaway throttle problem as said might be a coding error that only occurs when a preset sequence of values is seen, so the problem might not even happen in the cars lifetime.

As for stray RF affecting the car this is not a possibility as all vehicles now are rigorously tested for all bands of RF for interference. If there is an interference then the car is not classed as passed and thus can't be sold to the public.

the amount of monet toyota are already ploughing into retifications is most likely a stupid figure so 1 mill to the person who can recreate the problem is a bit of a pipe dream for joe public. Toyota have their experts who know the vehicles inside out, so i doubt if somone else will solve the problem for them

Offline Saffy

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As for stray RF affecting the car this is not a possibility as all vehicles now are rigorously tested for all bands of RF for interference. If there is an interference then the car is not classed as passed and thus can't be sold to the public.


I am not saying it's the case for this specific issue with Toyota but to say RF affecting a car is "not a possibility" then I do not believe that to be true. They may well be tested and required to pass an RF emission level , it will still produce an 'acceptable level' of noise! But that's nothing to do with being rigorously tested and shielded against the effects from external RF and again they will have acceptable levels if they are. For extreme instance the vehicle would surely be effected by a nuclear EMP which is essentially high intensity broadband RF. At the other extreme many ham radio operators have the equipment that can could potentially have undesired effects on a vehicles electronics. Real world example...
there are still new vehicles that I can prevent key fob entry into from quite a fair distance just with a low power UHF radio, in turn that system causes 'noise' on a HAM band...what went wrong with the 'not possible' testing and certification there?
« Last Edit: March 12, 2010, 08:28:19 by Saffy »
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Offline Range Rover Blues

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Funny you should mention CanBus.  A few years ago I was working with Fermec and they pulled the CanBus out of their machine because stuff kept switching itself on :-.
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Offline Saffy

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Are cosmic rays really causing Toyota's woes?

WASHINGTON – It may sound far-fetched, but federal regulators are studying whether sudden acceleration in Toyotas is linked to cosmic rays.

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/classifieds/news/automotive/latestnews/stories/DN-detroit_21bus.ART.State.Edition1.3db2cdb.html
« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 08:14:49 by Saffy »
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Offline squaddie_fox

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they use the CanBus system in the new military trucks...(just because i had nothing else to add and im bored...)

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Offline dxmedia

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Are cosmic rays really causing Toyota's woes?

WASHINGTON – It may sound far-fetched, but federal regulators are studying whether sudden acceleration in Toyotas is linked to cosmic rays.

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/classifieds/news/automotive/latestnews/stories/DN-detroit_21bus.ART.State.Edition1.3db2cdb.html


By 1 crack pot professor who should know better and should be struck off!

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