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NASA Summoned To Fix Prius Problems

CmdrTaco posted about 4 years ago | from the tang-is-not-always-the-answer dept.

NASA 380

coondoggie writes "If you want to solve a major engineering mystery, why not bring in some of the world's best engineers? The US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today said it was doing just that by bringing in NASA engineers with expertise in areas such as computer controlled electronic systems, electromagnetic interference, and software integrity to help tackle the issue of unintended vehicle acceleration in Toyotas. The NHTSA review of the electronic throttle control systems in Toyotas is to be completed by late summer." We're really in trouble when NASA has no choice but to call Bruce Willis.

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380 comments

Queue joke... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31675986)

How many engineers does it take to fix a Toyota?

Re:Queue joke... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676076)

Three.

One to remove the floor-mat.
One to absorb the cosmic rays supposedly causing the problem.
One to actually fix the problem, by reintroducing mechanical acceleration.

I'll be here all day.

Re:Queue joke... (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | about 4 years ago | (#31676078)

None, you blame it on the programmers and make them fix it.

Re:Queue joke... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676242)

The programmers are too busy updating the bugs, adding more bugs and bypassing the quality controls.
Mean while the suits are passing the buck, slipping money into politicians' pockets and giving themselves a around of raise.

If you want to stop things from moving anywhere... (5, Funny)

aapold (753705) | about 4 years ago | (#31676002)

I guess today's NASA is a good call...

Re:If you want to stop things from moving anywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676520)

I guess today's NASA is a good call...

I don't know if I want NASA to fix my Toyota problem...NASA has a reputation for crashing and burning.

Re:If you want to stop things from moving anywhere (1)

squidfood (149212) | about 4 years ago | (#31676696)

NASA has a reputation for crashing and burning.

Does Toyota work in metric or imperial? Because we might all be screwed.

So... (4, Interesting)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about 4 years ago | (#31676024)

So, this is an admission that sticking pedals and faulty floormats had nothing to do with the problem, and that the recalls to fix pedal and floormat "problems" were simply a smokescreen to hide the actual cause of the problem (albeit, unknown cause)?

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

SBrach (1073190) | about 4 years ago | (#31676098)

Yes. Toyota decided the least convoluted way of admitting to software issues was to have a government agency of a foreign country (NHTSA) call in another agency (NASA) to look for software bugs as part of that foreign country's investigation into the matter.

What If (0)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 4 years ago | (#31676410)

Yes. Toyota decided the least convoluted way of admitting to software issues...

What makes you think these "corner events" are software related? With the scale and precision of the chips today, who knows. Electromagnetic interference? Sun spots? Something as simple as a 0 turning into a 1...

Re:What If (5, Interesting)

moogied (1175879) | about 4 years ago | (#31676572)

No its not that simple.

CAN Protocol(the de-facto automotive protocol) contains error checking. So if a node in the system sends out 00000001 but the "sun spot" turns it to 01000001, it finds that error. So unless it changes that to a 01000001, while also changing the parity bit(or whatever they use for error checking) to 0 as well(as compared to 1), WHILE ALSO somehow disabling the entire safety section of code that reduces the throttle input when brakes are applied... then I seriously doubt it.

Everyone involved in this knows the above facts, what they have to do is prove the above facts. The reason they called in NASA is because they lack the right type of experts, NASA does not. Case closed.

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 4 years ago | (#31676136)

Or it's an admission that the administration wants to make a public circus out of this in order to protect their investment in GM and Chrysler. Or maybe it's an admission that the NHTS doesn't have experience in embedded computer systems and grabbed some from elsewhere.

Re:So... (5, Funny)

Jenming (37265) | about 4 years ago | (#31676236)

It was my understanding that the entire problem was caused by some Shadowrunners hired by GM and Ford to break into the Toyato supply lines. I heard it was a three pronged attack, their decker injected some software bugs, they let a troll loose in the factory to fuck with the pedals and they got a shaman to curse the floor mats.

Re:So... (1, Informative)

ravenshrike (808508) | about 4 years ago | (#31676374)

It was my understanding that the entire problem was caused by some Shadowrunners hired by GM and Chrysler to break into the Toyota supply lines. I heard it was a three pronged attack, their decker injected some software bugs, they let a troll loose in the factory to fuck with the pedals and they got a shaman to curse the floor mats.

FTFY

Re:So... (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 years ago | (#31676628)

That's pretty fucking hardcore. I'm surprised the Yakusa hasn't iced them yet, the CEOs that is. You'd expect the CEO of General Motors to be found floating in his jacuzi, the unfortunate victim of a accidental beheading. The CEO of Chrysler will be eaten by by his car, which somehow acquired a demonic spirit hostile to automotive CEOs. Must be cosmic rays.

I wonder if this would have happened, if the gremlins hadn't taken over the NSA?

Re:So... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676244)

Or it's an admission that the administration wants to make a public circus out of this in order to protect their investment in GM and Chrysler...

Bingo! We have a winner. Watch for it to get very, very expensive for Toyota to sell cars in the US.

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

ircmaxell (1117387) | about 4 years ago | (#31676350)

Watch for it to get very, very expensive for Toyota to sell cars in the US.

And if the reason it is so cheap for them now is because of inadequate development practices (testing, code review, etc), I'll be all the more happier to pay the extra price. The question isn't did Toyota fuck-up here. The question is how may fuck-ups where there before they got caught. And how many fuck-ups are there in the rest of the automotive industry that just haven't surfaced (because of any one of a number of reasons)...

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676418)

Innocent until proven guilty? Maybe the question here is: are people putting fingers in the Wendy's chili bowl?

Is it even happening?

Re:So... (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | about 4 years ago | (#31676526)

Almost every single piece of non-trivial software written has bugs. What are the chances that over a million lines of code used in the Prius doesn't contain a single bug? 0. The point of my OP was not that Toyota is guilty of this being a bug, but are they using dangerous development practices that aren't catching bugs like this. So even if this is not a software issue, the issue still remains about how many "sleeping" bugs exist in all the cars. My OP was referencing that if this is true, Toyota will be the first to be burned by a major bug, but that doesn't mean that more aren't out there...

Re:So... (1)

coastwalker (307620) | about 4 years ago | (#31676602)

That is the real question, is any auto business finding the unknown unknown bug that is affecting Toyot?a. This isnt a politics question its a science question.

Re:So... (5, Interesting)

jwietelmann (1220240) | about 4 years ago | (#31676476)

This doesn't hurt Toyota; if anything it helps them. Nobody is buying the sticky-pedal, caught-in-the-floormat explanation anyway, so how could this do anything but help restore confidence in Toyota? You get NASA to say that the electronics could use some better shielding, everyone assumes that EMI was the problem, and you get right back to selling Prius'.

What's really wrong? I don't know (I'm sort of 50/50 between it being a software race condition or driver error [thecarconnection.com] ). But one would think that EMI wouldn't result in several cases of the exact same system failure.

Re:So... (0, Troll)

pegasustonans (589396) | about 4 years ago | (#31676170)

So, this is an admission that sticking pedals and faulty floormats had nothing to do with the problem, and that the recalls to fix pedal and floormat "problems" were simply a smokescreen to hide the actual cause of the problem (albeit, unknown cause)?

No, this is an admission that the United States government wants the US automotive companies they purchased to increase in value at the expense of the competition.

Headline-grabbing 'investigations' are the best way to scare the public and drive people to purchase more GM cars.

Re:So... (1)

pegasustonans (589396) | about 4 years ago | (#31676754)

To whoever modded me troll: You're right, the government would *never* play politics on an issue like this.

When US auto-manufacturers experienced a similar issue several years ago, the government did the exact same thing.

Right?

Re:So... (5, Informative)

natehoy (1608657) | about 4 years ago | (#31676174)

This is an "admission" of nothing. Nowhere does it say that Toyota has asked NASA to help out.

The NHTSA is asking NASA to help out, but the NHTSA has never asserted that this was a pedal or floormat problem. They've just been holding Toyota to the fire to get a fix. And the fixes so far do not appear to be working.

This is a sign that the NTSB is likely suspicious of Toyota's explanation, and frustrated with continuing reports of sudden acceleration even on "fixed" cars, and would like someone without a vested interest in a cheap fix to examine this. Given NASA's experience with writing software that's just gotta work or else, I'd be very hard-pressed to think of no better team of programmers for the job.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676688)

except NASA's manned space flight code is usually bought. They do have some expertise but it is the contractors who really could get it done.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676702)

You're making the assumption that the problem actually exists, or still exists. I'm suspicious that a lot of people all of a sudden are finding fingers in Wendy's food... something smells fishy here.

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | about 4 years ago | (#31676446)

If NASA cannot find a problem, then Toyota is off the hook.

If NASA does find a problem, then Toyota can say -- "It was such a subtle problem, it took NASA's resources and expertise to find and fix it."

Either way, it can be spun positively by the PR folks.

Re:So... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#31676524)

Given the way complex systems tend to work, and the psychology of how people debug them, it seems much more Occam-friendly to suggest that the pedal and floormat problems were real; but, by virtue of being more common and substantially easier to see(debugging of subtle edge cases in embedded code that may or may not happen under certain circumstances but evidence is largely anecdotal, which just isn't too helpful when what you need are the precise parameters the ECU was seeing at the time, is a bitch. Observing wear patterns in a large mechanical part, and pushing it up and down with your hand, and comparing the amount of force needed on a worn one and a fresh one, by contrast, is substantially easier and more intuitive) they masked the much subtler firmware issues until they were corrected.

It is hardly impossible, or even implausible(in more complex systems), for multiple problems to exist; but, for the sake of their sanity, people generally try to debug them in some sort of order, while holding other variables constant. If you find a problem that is easily visible, you don't even need a magnifying glass, much less a debugger and some serious CS skills, you tend to hold to the notion that, pending further evidence, that problem is the problem. If, once you fix it, bad things still happen, you know that you have to look elsewhere.

Apparently... (5, Funny)

Tinctorius (1529849) | about 4 years ago | (#31676034)

Driving a car is rocket science.

Re:Apparently... (4, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 4 years ago | (#31676464)

In all seriousness, no, its not.

They need to call in the guys at IGT. They make the majority of the slot machines and video poker machines in the world. If anyone knows about ensuring data integrity, and error checking, etc in embedded systems, it is them.

Its amazing how much detail and error checking go into any system dealing with money, but not with human lives.

This reminds me of... (2, Informative)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 4 years ago | (#31676036)

Working as a developer at a tiny shop just out of college. Any time the CEO had troubles figuring out how to access a website I would be summoned to "just fix it" for him.

Re:This reminds me of... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676280)

That is just a horrible car analogy. I can't even figure out which one of you is supposed to be the car and which one is supposed to be the analogy.

Looking in all the wrong places. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676040)

The movie Herbie was prophetic.

uh oh (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676046)

Don't forget to tell them the Japanese use the metric system please.

Re:uh oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676334)

Don't forget to tell them the Japanese use the metric system please.

So does NASA. You're thinking of Lockheed.

Which will be hired by NASA to handle the investigation, no doubt.

Paid off by the government? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676048)

Considering the government now has a vested interest and billions of dollars invested in the success of GM and Chrysler, who's to say the NASA evaluators won't be influence in relation to their final report?

Didn't Chrysler have a similar problem several years ago that ended up being user error? For some reason, I don't remember Congress and NASA deciding they needed to weigh in on that.

Re:Paid off by the government? (4, Insightful)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | about 4 years ago | (#31676214)

You do realize the government could flush every penny invested in GM and Chrysler down the toilet and not miss it, right? Dragging down Toyota to prop up GM and Chrysler might make sense if the federal government was dependent on their success, but it isn't. And even if they took down Toyota, that wouldn't prevent the dozen or so other non-gov't owned brands from rushing to fill the gap (and likely succeeding given the shitty reputation of GM and Chrysler over the past couple decades). Without a motive, inventing conspiracy theories in advance seems rather pointless.

Re:Paid off by the government? (1)

pegasustonans (589396) | about 4 years ago | (#31676292)

Without a motive, inventing conspiracy theories in advance seems rather pointless.

The motive is the government is a major investor and primary share-holder in the competition. If you can't see a conflict of interest here, then you're not looking hard enough.

In addition, it's not "in advance" if the government is already playing headline-grabbing politics on the issue and has been for months.

Re:Paid off by the government? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676378)

You do realize the government could flush every penny invested in GM and Chrysler down the toilet and not miss it, right? Dragging down Toyota to prop up GM and Chrysler might make sense if the federal government was dependent on their success, but it isn't. And even if they took down Toyota, that wouldn't prevent the dozen or so other non-gov't owned brands from rushing to fill the gap (and likely succeeding given the shitty reputation of GM and Chrysler over the past couple decades). Without a motive, inventing conspiracy theories in advance seems rather pointless.

You are correct if you talking the $$ investment... the votes the politicians get is what matters, they come from the lobbying and support of GM ect...

Re:Paid off by the government? (2, Insightful)

glueball (232492) | about 4 years ago | (#31676416)

Motive: Millions of union members of GM and their suppliers depend on the success and will continue to vote for the current government to insure others' lack of success--especially the company that put GM to #2.

Re:Paid off by the government? (2, Informative)

tibman (623933) | about 4 years ago | (#31676498)

wow, i can't even think in that kind of direction. Thank you for sharing but that does sound very unlikely. There was a part in the article talking about other private industry problems that NASA has helped with, but they don't mention Chrysler.. someone will have to research that.

"In 2003, NASA and the NHTSA wanted to research new methods for testing vehicle rollover resistance after a widely reported factory recall of Firestone tires. NASA's High Capacity Centrifuge (HCC) was the answer. Vehicles were spun, using the HCC at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center on a test platform, until inertia and centrifugal force caused them to tip. Results of that test have set standards for rollover technology development."

Hmmm... (2, Interesting)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 4 years ago | (#31676052)

Wait, so when a private corporation fubars something, you gotta roll in the government funded engineers to fix it? Interesting, interesting...

Re:Hmmm... (2, Informative)

chord.wav (599850) | about 4 years ago | (#31676296)

Government has been helping car manufacturers, banks, wall street execs, etc, etc. for a long time now. Hope you aren't just realizing this now. Otherwise, put the shotgun and the shaving blades in a locked compartment and throw the key away, cause you are in for a depressing ride...

Re:Hmmm... (2, Interesting)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 4 years ago | (#31676354)

Seems I forgot the sarcasm tags up there - I beg your pardon. Well, took no more that 10 minutes for the troll mod anyway. My non-sarcastic point - inefficiency and failure is not a function of government vs. private. Such oversimplifications kill rational debate. Inefficiency is mostly a function of size. Have you seen the amount of bureaucracy large corporation develop? I had some glimpses into the inner workings of multinationals - can't distinguish that from any government.

Willis!? (4, Funny)

indre1 (1422435) | about 4 years ago | (#31676064)

Bruce Willis? They'd better call Chuck Norris to fix the pedals with a roundhouse kick or I'm selling my Toyota!

Re:Willis!? (1)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | about 4 years ago | (#31676166)

Well if Chuck Norris roundhouse kicks the pedals, they'll definitely stick. That takes the "unexpected" out of unexpected acceleration, but doesn't really solve the issue...

Re:Willis!? (1)

indre1 (1422435) | about 4 years ago | (#31676578)

You can't say that, because:
* Nobody knows what's actually wrong with the pedals
* Chuck Norris can fix anything

Floor Mats (3, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | about 4 years ago | (#31676074)

If the problems with the shuttles were related to floor mats then perhaps NASA could help. Otherwise, it's just another set of computer scientists looking over a few million lines of code they didn't write, trying to find a defect that has supposedly manifest itself less than a few hundred times out of million of cars and probably billions of miles driven.

Re:Floor Mats (2, Insightful)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | about 4 years ago | (#31676192)

If the problems with the shuttles were related to floor mats then perhaps NASA could help. Otherwise, it's just another set of computer scientists looking over a few million lines of code they didn't write, trying to find a defect that has supposedly manifest itself less than a few hundred times out of million of cars and probably billions of miles driven.

Which means the newest guy at NASA will find it in the first week, and solve it by adding a semi-colon.

Re:Floor Mats (4, Interesting)

c++0xFF (1758032) | about 4 years ago | (#31676238)

There's other theories, too, that NASA could help with. Such as current spikes or other hardware problems.

In reality, NASA may be a perfect choice given their experience with designing fault-tolerant systems. That means everything from protecting the system from the environment to software validation. The control systems in a car have become very complex, approaching that of airplanes and rockets. I think NASA is a good choice, although I might have gone with an aerospace company instead, such as Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop, EADS, etc.

Re:Floor Mats (2, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 4 years ago | (#31676368)

I'd say the control systems have become far more complex in cars than in airplanes or rockets. The problem being that they don't need to have all the redundancy under most circumstances. This is one of the few places though where it's similar to an airplane falling out of the sky. 99% of the time though if something fails in a car's control system it just means sitting on the side of the road waiting for AAA.

Re:Floor Mats (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | about 4 years ago | (#31676252)

I doubt it will boil down to a code review. Code used for special purpose stuff like this is usually very different from the code used in a general purpose computing device. Very few conditional branches, very straight line execution. This should make it possible to test every possible code path thoroughly, unlike, say Windows or Linux, where a complete test of every possible code path would take longer than it would take for the Sun to burn out.

Re:Floor Mats (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | about 4 years ago | (#31676286)

Of course, that said, the reason this type of code is usually (effectively) bug free is because it *is* tested that thoroughly. So either Toyota cut corners, their code coverage module was incorrect, or something is happening that 100% code coverage couldn't catch (e.g. the cosmic ray explanation advanced previously).

Re:Floor Mats (4, Interesting)

HarvardAce (771954) | about 4 years ago | (#31676392)

Otherwise, it's just another set of computer scientists looking over a few million lines of code they didn't write, trying to find a defect that has supposedly manifest itself less than a few hundred times out of million of cars and probably billions of miles driven.

You're confusing "electronic" with "software." One possible theory is that interference (internal or external) is causing signals between parts to become corrupted. My understanding (having RTFA) is that they are focusing on the electrical engineering aspects of it. I would imagine that NASA, needing to design and test equipment in the harsh environment of space, is pretty darn good at exactly that.

Who you gonna call? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676094)

When there's something weird in your machine? Who you gonna call? When there're ghosts in your machine Who you gonna call? NASA!

Realigning NASA mission to automotive (5, Interesting)

nathanielinbrazil (1774720) | about 4 years ago | (#31676120)

The budget cuts at NASA apparently keep them earthbound and working on earth crawlers

Re:Realigning NASA mission to automotive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676370)

NASA's budget was increased, not cut. Only certain high-profile programs were scrapped to make way for more funding in other areas.

Have Them Clean Out The Sewage Pumps Too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676146)

It must suck to be a NASA engineer nowadays. You used to work on systems to send men to the moon. Now you're wiping grease off of oil-soaked brake disks and sticking your probes into 12v automotive stuff to find some crappy car problem that other people are too stupid to figure out.

Spend MILLIONS of dollars.. (4, Insightful)

p51d007 (656414) | about 4 years ago | (#31676164)

and when it is all said & done, they will conclude people are hitting the GAS instead of the BRAKE.

Re:Spend MILLIONS of dollars.. (0, Flamebait)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 4 years ago | (#31676294)

As long as there's an excuse to pay off the people that got you into office. It really doesn't matter what that may be. This gets a bump to NASA. A bump to the Auto Unions. A look over here to the power grabbers. And many other ways to distribute favors under the guise of public service.

Re:Spend MILLIONS of dollars.. (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about 4 years ago | (#31676450)

Yeah, I'm sure that John Saylor who was trained as a CHP officer for driving in adverse conditions at high speeds was totally just hitting the wrong pedal when he and his family were killed.

Gotta love it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676176)

First, the government kills 13,000 NASA jobs and destroys any hope for future progress with the American space program.
Then, the government relagates NASA's duties to exclusively focusing on global warming.
Now, the government further belittles NASA by making them fix a non-american-company's private affairs.

I can haz NASA engineers to re-roof my house?

Re:Gotta love it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676414)

why do nasa people deserve gov't jobs, aka welfare, if they ain't needed ? the shuttle has been a boondoggle from day one, exceeded only by the space station. i feel sorry for the nasa people, but why shold i take money out of my pocket to pay their salaries ? are they really worth it ?

So I guess.... (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | about 4 years ago | (#31676196)

this *IS* one of those problems that requires a rocket scientist to figure out. I never thought I'd see the day. My life is now complete.

Re:So I guess.... (2, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 4 years ago | (#31676440)

Toyota testified in front of congress, "We're automotive engineers not rocket scientists."

Congress said, "I know a guy, that knows a guy. Let me make a phone call."

now this.

Re:So I guess.... (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | about 4 years ago | (#31676506)

this *IS* one of those problems that requires a rocket scientist to figure out. I never thought I'd see the day. My life is now complete.

Toyota doesn't utilize rocket propulsion on the Prius, unfortunately.

Hang in there.

a public relations stunt (2, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about 4 years ago | (#31676202)

I think this is a stunt on 2 levels:

1. Public relations need to be fixed somehow, so calling in NASA shows that the company is 'dead serious' about fixing this problem and they are going for the best people to do it, right?

2. A small token of appreciation to the government of USA by hiring NASA people, creating some employment, probably this is done with an involvement of a senator or two, some governor maybe, whatever, some politicians will get involved and this is probably important for Toyota now.

3. Something else, again not really related to the actual car problem, but trying to save the company's ass.

Re:a public relations stunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676458)

I think this is a stunt on 2 levels:

Good at math are you?

1. Public relations need to be fixed somehow, so calling in NASA shows that the company is 'dead serious' about fixing this problem and they are going for the best people to do it, right?

NHTSA requested NASA involvement, not Toyota

2. A small token of appreciation to the government of USA by hiring NASA people, creating some employment, probably this is done with an involvement of a senator or two, some governor maybe, whatever, some politicians will get involved and this is probably important for Toyota now.

NASA engineers will continue to draw a salary from NASA while "on loan" to NHTSA

3. Something else, again not really related to the actual car problem, but trying to save the company's ass.

so... the NHTSA is asking for assistance from NASA in order to save Toyota's ass, but it has nothing to do with the supposed problem that has been receiving so much publicity of late?

Fail, fail, fail

Re:a public relations stunt (3, Interesting)

confused one (671304) | about 4 years ago | (#31676554)

I said this earlier:

If NASA does find a problem then Toyota can spin it as it being so subtle that it took the resources of NASA to find it. They can then use this, with PR spin, and an agreement to contract with NASA for "consulting" as a win.

If NASA finds nothing, then Toyota is off the hook wrt the drive by wire system, again a win.

Fate it seems... (3, Informative)

Jon Abbott (723) | about 4 years ago | (#31676218)

What is truly ironic here is that NASA regularly [nasa.gov] summons [wikipedia.org] external [wikipedia.org] panels [nasa.gov] to fix their problems.

Re:Fate it seems... (2, Insightful)

Glendale2x (210533) | about 4 years ago | (#31676558)

Three of those that you cited were incidents that caused loss of crew and vehicle, some quite dramatic. Had they kept the resulting investigation internal for those were very public events, they could have been accused of covering something up. Or maybe they wouldn't have truly found the fault, or deluded themselves into thinking it was just an accident. What if we never knew that engineers were requesting imaging of Columbia? Or that engineers were trying to say "no go" to Challenger? Whatever they were doing with their own internal review processes apparently weren't working quite right, so get someone else to look at it and give them a kick in the ass if needed. It's not really ironic at all.

NASA does have experience (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 4 years ago | (#31676270)

With electric vehicles (Mars and Lunar Rover)

Re:NASA does have experience (4, Informative)

gknoy (899301) | about 4 years ago | (#31676404)

Moreover, their vehicles operate in adverse conditions (radiation, temperature extremes, chance of collisions with fast moving things). They might actually be fairly adept at looking at systems which are supposed to be robust and failsafe, and identifying ways in which they are NOT failsafe.

Credibility... (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 4 years ago | (#31676304)

I've heard a lot of rumors in recent years about poor technical abilities at NASA. I wonder if this is primarily meant to give NASA some street cred.

The Woz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676346)

I swear I heard Steve Wozniak say in an interview abut his book a while back that he knew of this problem and could reproduce it in his own prius? I can't find the video on it anymore, but would any of you now of it or where to find it?

NPR (0)

kneemoe (1042818) | about 4 years ago | (#31676348)

How is it that NPR had the last two stories (NASA & Prius as well as the Magnet influencing morality) on LAST NIGHT'S broadcast, and they're *just now* showing up here? Slashdot has lost its way.

Slashdot fail? (2, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | about 4 years ago | (#31676358)

This is Slashdot and we suggest the most insane stuff be Open Source (e.g. "Why isn't my Microwave under GPL?"). But yet when we have an absolutely perfect opportunity to suggest that cars should be REQUIRED to be Open Source for public safety we drop the ball. Come on guys, we can use the power of Open Source and "many eyes" to literally save lives. You could be the geek that finds that piece of code!

Re:Slashdot fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676646)

> "Why isn't my Microwave under GPL?"

That's easy. The GPL is based on copyright law and microwaves, being a basic physical particle, can't be copyrighted.

Re:Slashdot fail? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 4 years ago | (#31676776)

Maybe because we dont want geeks updating their cars firmware so that when accelerating, the pitch of the engine matches the "Final Countdown" melody, on the theories that "it would be cool", "that sequence kicks ass", and "because I didnt like the fork that locked and unlocked the breaks in time with "BOOM-BOOM-TSK"

Bruce Willis? (1)

jj00 (599158) | about 4 years ago | (#31676432)

Bruce Willis? The bigger issue is that they'll have to break Steven Tyler out of rehab.

$3 Mil? (3, Funny)

MrTripps (1306469) | about 4 years ago | (#31676488)

"The total cost of the two studies is expected to come to approximately $3 million, including the cost of purchasing cars that have allegedly experienced unintended acceleration to be studied." I guess they don't have to bother looking at the Car Fax. What does "unintended acceleration" do to the KBB value?

Oooh.... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 4 years ago | (#31676568)

> We're really in trouble when NASA has no choice but to call Bruce Willis.

Oooh... do we get to see him blow up a Prius? With him inside?

This will be interesting. (4, Interesting)

seebs (15766) | about 4 years ago | (#31676574)

I'd really like to see how the computer in the car manages to consistently only enter this mysterious state when the driver is 60 or older (or maybe in the late 50s). Because normally, if you have a ton of examples of something failing, all of which involve people of an age famed for acquired inattentiveness or confusion, and which look just like many other reported and documented cases of elderly folks getting confused and hitting the gas pedal thinking it's the brakes, you'd not assume it was the computer.

What the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676618)

So none of Toyota's engineers could figure out what the problem is?
Toyota's reputation just took a nose dive.

Sup Dawg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676626)

Toyota: "Yo, I hear NASA ppl R smrt!"
US: "Ya they R clevr! lets get they're help!"
NASA Rocket Scientist - Xzhibit: "Yo dawg, we heard you like stopping, so we put retro rockets in your Prius, so you can stop while you accelerate!"

bring in NASA to check for extra-terrestials (1)

fregare (923563) | about 4 years ago | (#31676650)

Yes they have a track record of very good design. For example, it was an excellent idea to put the engine right under the pilots on the shuttle . They'll find the problem all right. They should be able to figure it out though since it is caused by Martians thereby justifying the Mars mission.

Waste of tax dollars (thankfully not mine) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31676656)

G.D. on a popsicle stick!

NASA can't fix stupid drivers.

There is nothing wrong with these cars. It is driver error.

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