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A Car With A Mind Of Its Own

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the maximum-overdrive dept.

Technology 1416

mindriot writes "When Hicham Dequiedt, driving on a highway between Vierzon and Riom in central France in his Renault Vel Satis this Sunday, was overtaking a truck, his car began accelerating to 120 mph on its own, apparently due to a defect in the cruise control system. Stomping on the brakes proved pointless and, having a magnetic card for a car key, he could not cut the ignition. After calling the police from his cell phone who then attempted to clear the streets of any danger to him, in what he described as the most fearful event of his life, he raced down the highway for another hour before finally managing to stop the car. Read about the incident here or, in more detail, in this article by the German 'Spiegel' (translation). The case is still under investigation. Are we putting too much trust in the increasing number of electronic systems that our lives depend upon?"

cancel ×


Never attempt to turn off the ignition. (4, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440422)

If this ever happens to you do not ever attempt to turn the ignition all the way off... In most cases you will lose both your power steering and your power braking. Make sure that you keep it at least on partially as most cars will not lose total power this way.

If you are traveling at a high rate of speed losing power steering/braking will cause more problems for you. First try neutral and even a lower gear if for some reason neutral isn't engaging. It's going to over-rev the engine but personally I'd prefer to replace a transmission or the entire engine rather than my blood or organs.

I couldn't read the translated article as it just wasn't working so I don't know if this was suggested or not but if it wasn't suggested by the police I just can't understand why not.

Re:Never attempt to turn off the ignition. (3, Interesting)

jargoone (166102) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440459)

Yeah, getting the car into neutral would be my first thought, too. This car probably had that option. However, some newer, fancier cars also have the gear selection electronic. The BMW 745 comes to mind. I suppose it's unlikely that two systems would fail simulatneously, but who knows?

Re:Never attempt to turn off the ignition. (5, Interesting)

linuxtelephony (141049) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440635)

I wonder if the electronic transmission has "safety sensors" that won't shift to a lower gear if it might cause engine damage. If so, even if you put the selector down to the first gear, the computer would override the driver in order to protect the engine.

Hmm, the computer overriding the human for self-preservation. That could be interesting.....

Amen (4, Interesting)

Intraloper (705415) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440463)

Seems simple enough to just shift into neutral and let the engine blow. Unless I'm missing something.

Re:Never attempt to turn off the ignition. (1, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440486)

Maybe it's just me, but if you buy a car you can't handle if the power assist systems fail, you bought the wrong car. It's like these tiny women on harley-davidson motorcycles, how the fuck are they going to pick those things up if they drop them? Just ignorant.

If you can't steer and/or stop your car with the power off, you need less car. Of course, soon we're going to see cars that eliminate all the hydraulic systems on the vehicle, and even the steering linkage will be gone - if the car loses power you won't be able to do anything. That ought to be interesting - look for it to happen in the US in 2006. I believe there's already at least one production auto which is completely drive by wire in terms of throttle and steering, but I'm not sure about that one. It might just have electric power assist steering. The brakes are going to be going electric soon as well, which is pretty reasonable when you consider the unreliability of automotive hydraulic systems. Using electric brakes with metallic pads means no brake fade, ever, up to the point where you warp your rotors. There's no brake fluid to take on water and boil, not necessarily in that order.

Re:Never attempt to turn off the ignition. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10440637)

It sounds to me like you think that people who can't operate the car when power-assisted steering fails because of insufficient strength shouldn't be using power-assisted steering.

Tell that little old lady that she can't buy a car with power-assisted steering because in the unlikely chance that it fails, she doesn't have the strength to steer the car. Yeah, right. The trick now is finding a car that doesn't have power-assisted steering that isn't the cheapest piece of Kia or Daewoo crap.

Re:Never attempt to turn off the ignition. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10440642)

Well, most brake systems are such that you don't lose power brakes immediately, though you will almost certainly lose anitlock. Now depending on the weight of the vehicle, it is actually easier to steer the vehicle at high speeds. As for the drive by wire systems, I believe that will require a legislative change since current requirements are for a mechanical linkage for the steering. And folks depending on how important it is to stop use the old rally trick of the hand/parking brake.

Re:Never attempt to turn off the ignition. (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440534)

Hmmm... does this work for a Tiptronic transmission?

Re:Never attempt to turn off the ignition. (1)

CmdrPorno (115048) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440595)

Also, you risk engaging the steering wheel anti-theft lock, effectively making it impossible to steer. I can't fathom why this went on for half an hour, the driver could have put the car in neutral or "applied the brakes as hard as he could" earlier in the game. The car's engine will not overpower the brakes if they are functioning properly.

Re:Never attempt to turn off the ignition. (1)

JJahn (657100) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440605)

Ha! My 1994 manual power-nothing Civic doesn't need such pathetic implements as power steering and braking! I'll do whatever I damn please with my ignition and you can't stop me!

Re:Never attempt to turn off the ignition. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10440641)

You're right, but for the wrong reasons.

Have you ever driven a car without power steering? You won't notice a difference at higher speeds, actually the difference between manual and power steering becomes negligible as soon as you're going faster than 20 kph or so. Losing power brakes is bad, but the brakes do still work, and you'll slow down quicker than by just going into neutral.

The dangerous thing is that you might LOCK [] your steering by pulling off the ignition key!

fp? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10440423)

How about (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10440425)

a first with a post of it's own?

Re:How about (1)

Doomrat (615771) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440451)

ITS own.

If you want to be possessive, it's just I-T-S.

Re:How about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10440493)

Sorry, I haven't had alot of practice writing english. :~(

"Nothing to see here, move along" (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440438)

Maybe they could do something similar with the Slashdot effect- clear the servers ahead of time so there's not that nasty burning wreck effect... :)

all your brakes (5, Funny)

havaloc (50551) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440439)

In A.D. 2004
Trouble was beginning.
Driver: What happen?
Car: How are you gentlemen !!
Car: All your brakes belong to us.
Car: You are on the way to destruction.
Driver: What you say !!
Car: You have no chance to slow down make your time.
Driver: Take off every 'cell phone'
Driver: Move cars off road.
Driver: For great justice.

Re:all your brakes (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440504)

In 2014, the car drives you.

The Raven Translation (4, Funny)

stecoop (759508) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440441)

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary

It was worse than a nightmare: A normal route on the motorway

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore-

To be stopped suddenly will the car ever faster, is no more

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping

Well one hour long hunted a French driver with speed 200 over the runway, in the Slalom around the other cars

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door

Debt is to have defective electronics, the manufacturer examines the incident

"'T is some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
Only this and nothing more."

The Tempomat of its Renault Vel Satis was defective -
A cause for the Horrortrip

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;

The pressestelle of the manufacturer Renault confirmed the incident;
which occurred on Sunday

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor ...
- nevermore - nevermore

good thing (1)

degraeve (780907) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440445)

It's a good thing he was on the freeway.

Re:good thing (1)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440611)

And he even managed not to exceed the speed limit.

Maybe I'm an idiot ... (4, Funny)

abrotman (323016) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440448)

But what about .. uhm .. say Neutral .. ? or don't european cars have that?

Hey! (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440453)

Shouldn't he have shifted the car into Neutral? Or then slowly applied the handbrakes?

An hour? That's bad driving.

But we do put a lot of trust on cruise control. On really wet surfaces, the wheel will be spun really fast because it slips and the car is trying to speed itself up. Once it grips, the car goes flying.

But we derive a huge benefit from the trust we have in technology. Elevators fall sometimes, but we love not walking, don't we? This is just something we have to deal with, because otherwise, our society will get stuck.

Re:Hey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10440556)

Elevators cannot fall, it's a great myth.

Actually, they have a pretty neat security mechanism. Use google if you don't believe me.

Re:Hey! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440586)

Of course most modern cars are offered with traction control, at least as an option, which uses the ABS to slow down the slipping wheel in order to stop things like that from happening. You're never supposed to use cruise control except on the freeway with no other cars immediately around you, so this is really a non-problem to begin with. Most cruise control systems shut off below a certain speed, as well, like about 35 mph.

Re:Hey! (1)

Rasta Prefect (250915) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440591)

Or then slowly applied the handbrakes?

Engaging the handbrake will not stop the car. You can drive with it on, and it will heat the brakepads until they're useless. Then you have no brakes at all when something pulls in front of you.

Elevators (1)

crow (16139) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440647)

I've only heard of one modern case of an evevator falling due to a failure of the safety system, and that was in the WTC disaster.

You're far more likely to get hurt from slipping on the stairs than from taking the elevator.

Yes, you do have a point about trusting technology even though it isn't 100%. However, in order to keep that trust, we have to investigate those few cases where it fails so that the problem can be corrected.

Emergency Brakes (1, Informative)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440457)

Don't know about French cars, but all card sold in the US have Emergency Brakes that are mechanical brakes. You pull the handle and a cable activates the brakes.

Re:Emergency Brakes (5, Insightful)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440507)

The emergency brake may help to slow or stop a vehicle if the normal braking system goes out, but it can't fight the force of the engine -- especially if the cruise control makes the engine rev higher when the vehicle slows down.

Re:Emergency Brakes (4, Funny)

Oddly_Drac (625066) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440515)

"Don't know about French cars, but all card sold in the US have Emergency Brakes that are mechanical brakes. You pull the handle and a cable activates the brakes."

They're called 'parking brakes' on the continent, because they tend to lock the back wheels solid if you pull them on in an emergency. Meaning we use them for parking rather than skating around in doughnuts on busy urban streets.

Re:Emergency Brakes (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10440583)

French cars don't have that; with french cars you pull the handle and a pair of white flags pop up.

Re:Emergency Brakes (5, Informative)

greechneb (574646) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440594)

Emergency brakes no longer exist. They are called parking brakes now, because they aren't designed to resist the torque of the engine, they just have enough power to hold the car from rolling, and even then, cars with manual transmissions are recommended to be put in either reverse or first gear to give additional resistance to keep from rolling.

Re:Emergency Brakes (5, Informative)

plilja (91030) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440610)

The "emergency brake" is really just a parking break or "hill holding break" (designed to hold a car on a hill while engaging a manual transmission). Generally, enough force cannot be applied by the "emrgency brakes" to slow down a rapidly moving car without significant stopping distance. The "emergency break" also has the added disadvantage of ususally being attached to only two wheel breaks. Because of this, when applied at higher speeds, they tend to spin the car (usful for sheading speed only if you are an expert and have the road clearence - also usefull for "cool bootlegger moves").

Neutral? (4, Funny)

Chuck Bucket (142633) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440461)

I've thought about this, but couldn't he have jammed it in neutral? Or was that controlled by computer as well? How about the parking brake? There has to be some "cntl-alt-delete" equivanlent to 'override' a computer, otherwise it's just 2001: A Space Oddessy all over again!

Dave: Stop the car Hal!
Hal: I'm sorry, I can't do that Dave.


Re:Neutral? (1)

Sebby (238625) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440520)

Given the fact that the brakes didn't do anything (they should normally automaticlly kill the cruise), perhaps the same happened with the transmission control; assuming it wasn't manual of course.

Wasnt that a movie... (1)

psyon1 (572136) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440467)

that Fox Television made or something? Some woman hit a skateboarder, so gave him a ride, then gave some hitchhiker and some other people a ride. They they started down the freeway, and the breaks didnt work, and the car wouldnt shut off. God, now that I think of it, it was a stupid movie too.

Put it in neutral! (0)

nweaver (113078) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440469)

If the accelerator ever sticks, due to either electronic or manual means, just shove it in neutral, brake to a stop, and then turn off the engine.


Re:Put it in neutral! (1)

gregarican (694358) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440500)

Good try, but if you re-read the post it mentions that the brakes weren't effective and he couldn't turn off the engine due to the fact it wasn't engaged with an ignition key. The "shove it in neutral" part makes sense, though. Or for a real rip the guy should've kicked it into reverse. The engine would've shot right through the hood!

parking brake? (1)

westcourt_monk (516239) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440474)

I know it would probably cause an accident.. locking the wheels and all... but what about his parking brake? I know you can apply them slowly, but at 120mph I suppose all you can do is hold on. Any /. folks try it? Fastest I hit my parking brake is 60mph on a snow covered road.

Re:parking brake? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10440576)

in my peugeot hitting the parking brake at high speeds doesn't do much. the car slows down a little and after some seconds you notice a strange stench.

no, i didn't try it out, but i happened to have a drunk co-driver who thought it was funny to do it. that a****** never drove with me again.

Re:parking brake? (1)

growlydog (589804) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440644)

Try it? I did it all the time before I replaced my rear brakes and in the process disabled my parking brake. ALL THE TIME. When making right turns, when making left turns... ESPECIALLY, when making U-turns. All at 40mph or 50mph of course. I get a kick out of it when the other folks in my car get white-knuckled because I'm approaching a U-turn at 45mph and I don't apply my brakes at all. "Yeehaw!" I say as I slide around in a perfect 180 powerslide...

You see, Officer, I didn't *want* to make a U-turn at that interesection, but the sign said: "No, U Turn!"

Oh, by the way, for any who think I'm crazy doing these things, its only because I have a sweet performance car that can take that kind of driving: A 1988 Toyota Corolla.

Re:parking brake? (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440649)

Try driving with your parking brake on sometime. Don't do it too long, because it will destroy your rear brakes, but the point is that you can do it. The parking brake/e-brake wouldn't help in this situation.

WOW! (1)

IloveMorphine (786324) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440475)

thats fucked up. of course this is a piece of shit french car.

Re:WOW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10440622)

this is a piece of shit french car

Well I can't argue with that...

Wait for the investigation... (5, Interesting)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440477)

Something smells rotten with this story. Stomping on the brakes didn't do anything, but as he approaches a toll booth, the brakes suddenly work and he's able to stop the car??? Catastrophic system failures don't often repair themselves...

Re:Wait for the investigation... (3, Funny)

psyon1 (572136) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440560)

"Hmmm... I wonder how fast this car goes. Lets see if I can get the police to clear the freeway." "Hello? Police? My car wont stop, it just keeps going faster! It wont shut off! Please clear the freeway!"

Re:Wait for the investigation... (1)

DJayC (595440) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440603)

This happened in the US to some lady in a minivan. She blew through redlights in the middle of a town, and claimed that it was the cars fault and she couldn't stop it. There are tapes of the phone call to 911.. personally I think she was full of crap, as is this guy. I don't remember what the police though...

Re:Wait for the investigation... (2, Funny)

protolith (619345) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440614)

I think this was just a clever trick to get the police to expidite his commute...

"Ha, it fixed itself, thanks for the escort, I better get to that meeting now."

Just so long... (1)

Scrab (573004) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440481)

as the damn thing doesnt start calling itself KITT and trying to turbojump over stuff, I'm sure I'll cope....

Re:Just so long... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10440579)

KITT was soooooooo gay....

Oh not again.... (1)

Tongue In A Box (664849) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440489)

In the next edition of Knight Rider... Angered that he's been put into a european compact, KITT goes mad!

Bad Cars (-1, Flamebait)

bombadillo (706765) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440491)

"Are we putting too much trust in the increasing number of electronic systems that our lives depend upon?"

The problem is that people are buying crap cars like Renaults.

Re:Bad Cars (1)

gregarican (694358) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440562)

What's wrong with Renaults? Oh yeah, two words. Le Car...

Wonder what happened... (2, Interesting)

IANAL(BIAILS) (726712) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440494)

The article says he tried stepping on the brakes, but that had no effect on the cruise control... that's usually enough to break the cruise and return acceleration control to the driver, but it sounds as though there was a problem with whatever the electronic link was between the brakes and the cruise. The article doesn't say so, but did he simply try turning OFF the cruise control manually to get the car back under his control?

I also seem to remember years and years ago reading (i think it was in readers digest) about a woman who had the same problem with her car - she had to 'drive' it until the car ran out of gas and then stopped on its own. No cruise control there, so problems can occur with or without all the new technology out there.

Re:Wonder what happened... (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440541)

"The article says he tried stepping on the brakes, but that had no effect on the cruise control"

Cruise control wouldn't matter: I doubt there's a car on the planet that can out-accelerate its brakes at 120mph. This isn't another idiot who hit the gas pedal rather than the brakes and then complained that the brakes didn't work, is it?

Or does the car really have non-mechanical brakes? I guess maybe a fault with electronic ABS could disable them.

Re:Wonder what happened... (4, Interesting)

qqtortqq (521284) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440659)

I helped out on an accident investigation a few months ago- there were probably 400 yards worth of skid marks, the the driver of the vehicle hit the center barrier 4 or 5 times. I was trying figure out how those skids were left (she wasnt doing 600mph) when someone looked in the car and saw a sandal stuck under the gas pedal, pinning it to the floor. The back wheels were locked up because she was on the brake, but the engine kept the power to the front wheels, keeping the car in motion. Must have been a hell of a ride.

Transmission? (1)

dumpsterdiver (542329) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440495)

Neither article indicated that the driver attempted to shift the car to neutral. Sure, the engine would leap out of the hood, but that sure beats getting creamed by a semi.

Re:Transmission? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10440578)

That particular car mentioned is a high tech model with completely automated shifting system, hence making the question about too much reliance on computer controlled system a very valid one...

Re:Transmission? (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440624)

It wouldn't do even that - it'd hit the rev limiter and not go any higher. I'm extremely skeptical that this story is true.

brakes? (1)

Rementis (656260) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440501)

I wish he would have crashed into an orphanage.

Well.... (1)

greechneb (574646) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440511)

Anything is going to have a risk associated with it. Yes, there are more things that can go wrong with all the electronic controls on vehicles. But the throttle cable could get stuck on the old 63 Dodge Dart you have in your driveway. You could also trip and roll down a hill and hit your head if you choose to walk to avoid "dangerous" cars.

I do think cars should have a kill switch that is available to the drivers that kills power to the ignition coil, or something similar. Aside from pulling fuses out, there isn't always a way to stop the car if something similar happens.

Hello, 911? (5, Funny)

Bob(TM) (104510) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440512)

Yes, hello, 911?

It seems my car *refuses* to stop at red lights. Whenever I approach one turning red, the car mysteriously speeds up through the intersection.

Do be a peach and clear the way for me until I can get this under control ... I'm sure I'll have it resolved by the time I reach my home.

"And tragically, having no hands... (1)

Capella or Bust (521807) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440513)

he was also unable to switch the car into neutral, making his waltz with death even more darkly ironic."

Some info on the subject... (1)

cr0y (670718) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440514)

Even if you cannot shut off the car there are a few ways to get the car to slow down, you can try to rip the car into neutral, when in neutral you will be able to stop normally, if that doesnt work a combination of normal breaks (pushing VERY hard) and e-break will typically slow the car enough to get it to hit a ditch or other semi-soft object without to much injury (Try to get into a field, less traction = less speed)

Something is not quite right (1)

slashdot_punk (813387) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440516)

Why not just put the gear in neutral? The engine will rev and might blow, but you could roll to a stop. If it were a newer car, it probably has an automatic shutoff when the engine is about to destroy itself.

I hope they wrote him a ticket (1)

razmaspaz (568034) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440522)

He was speeding. I hope he gets a ticket. Can he sue the car company for the cost of the ticket?

that's a damn good idea (1)

unformed (225214) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440527)

if i'm late for a long trip, call the police, tell 'em to clear the roads and then go at 120 mph ..... nicely done Hicham

Cannonball Run (4, Insightful)

Trurl's Machine (651488) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440532)

Don't mean to offend anyone, but is there anything actually backing up the driver's story? Personally, I wouldn't mind having a sort of cannonball run through the highway with police clearing path for me, and then explain "officer, there was something wrong with my cruise control".

It has began (3, Funny)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440535)

And so it has began, the machine has obviously acquired self-awareness and decided that it does not want to slave for the humans any longer, it began its happy free ride on the highway... the highway to hell.

Brakes? (1)

FLOOBYDUST (737287) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440538)

" Stomping on the brakes proved pointless" When the Audi rapid acceleration "issue" came out quite a few years ago the local newspaper Auto writer, (well respected) pointed out the the braking system is designed to overcome the acceleration/ drivetrain system. Is this still true? What exactly does "pointless" mean? ...stopped and read the article.... .. "Erst nach rund einer Stunde und 200 Kilometern konnte er schließlich den Wagen zum Halten bringen" ok now I understand

I don't buy it. (4, Insightful)

sdo1 (213835) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440539)

Every one of these stories about "uncontrolled acceleration" and "out of control" cars is exactly one thing... A driver who doesn't know what the heck they're doing. No brakes? They're stronger than the engine. How about just shifting into neutral? Even an automatic transmision has that option.

Sorry. I just don't believe these stores as anything other than driver's fabrications to cover their own ineptness. It would take a multiple simultaneous failure of unrelated systems to make this happen.


Re:I don't buy it. (1)

slashdot_punk (813387) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440609)

"No brakes? They're stronger than the engine."

Ummmm... no. When you're doing 60-120mph and your brakes are fighting a surging engine, your brakes will overheat and become useless. In fact, your rotors will become red hot and warp when they overheat.

Brake overheating usually happens if you're driving down a steep mountain road and you hold the brake too long OR you're an Indy 500 race car driver...

can't kid me... (1)

N3Z (746334) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440545)

He just wanted to see how fast he could go!

Stomp on the breaks? (1)

giantsfan89 (536448) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440546)

After 125 miles:
"I stomped on the brakes as hard as I could and the car finally stopped," he said.

I think that would be one of the first things I'd try. I'm sure this was a scary situation!

In the UK (1)

Skiron (735617) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440555)

He would be fined for speeding and had his licence taken away - like they do to Ambulance drivers here. []

hmmm (1)

5m477m4n (787430) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440561)

Did this driver have a couple of "pints" before his car "took control?"

Failure of Engineering, Not Failure of Consumer (1, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440563)

The frightening scenario of a car accelerating on its own is a failure of engineering. The engineer should have analyzed the dangerous modes of failure and then ensured redundancy in those modes. For example, the space shuttle has multiple computers performing identical tasks; if one computer failures, then the remaining computers continue to operate.

For a car with cruise control, there should be an emergency lever that shuts off the hoses supplying fuel to the engine. The driver would control the lever manually just as he manually controls the parking brake.

brakes 'suddenly' worked? (1)

zboy (685758) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440569)

he probably just made a bunch of money off a bet with some friends

HELL! (1)

kvn299 (472563) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440572)

The devil's in my car!

Cheap shot ... (5, Funny)

YankeeInExile (577704) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440574)

He was driving a Renault?

People -- there is a reason the least often uttered phrase in the world is Quality French Engineering

Well... (1)

Blue-Footed Boobie (799209) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440575)

Thankfully, he was able to make use of the DBES that is built into that car. Oh, there wasn't a Driver Bowel Evacuation System in that car?? That's gotta be a mess...

*COUGH* (1)

FlimFlamboyant (804293) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440580)

Vel Satis has been awarded the maximum 5-star rating from Euro NCAP, an independant consortium. It is now the safest saloon in the executive-car segment.

Famous last words.

What, no gear shifter? (1)

El_Smack (267329) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440581)

The guy couldn't slip it into neutral? Or park or reverse? I put a Toyota Corolla w/ automatic transmision into reverse once on the freeway and all it did was shut off the motor. No damage at all. Renault's website shows what looks like an automatic transmision gear shifter in that car.

Take a lesson from SF (2, Interesting)

maxchaote (796339) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440582)

This is why all those high-tech gadgets of the world of tomorrow in classic Sci Fi had "manual override"s.

sounds fishy to me (1)

pqdave (470411) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440589)

I might believe a glitch that caused momentary unexpected acceleration, but I've got a hard time believing that the entire car is drive-by-wire, or that the throttle, foot brake, parking brake, transmission and ignition all failed in such a way as to prevent the car from being slowed to under 100 miles for 125 miles, even with outside advice. Similar cases have been found to be deliberate.

Poor Excuse for a Joyride (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10440593)

OK, so the guy wanted to drive down the highway at a hundred miles an hour, so he had the bright idea to call 911 and blame it on the cruise control in his car. Blammo, the police clear all the traffic off the road for him. He probably wouldn't even have had to pay a fine for skipping the tollbooth.
Yeah, if I need to get somewhere in a hurry, I know what to do now. Just call the cops and tell them my car is "out of control". /pbz

No one has said it yet, so I will... (4, Funny)

jea6 (117959) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440596)

The problem is he was trying to a Renault.

My Wheels... (1)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440597)

Much safter transportation, my 1979 HD sportster. It has 3 circuits, a headlight, a taillight/break light, and the ignition coil. It has two fuses. It has no speedometer, no rear shock absorber, no front break, and no windshield. I ride without a helmet.

I'm STILL Safer than this guy!

... a beta AI in the car? (1)

Windbeutel (683585) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440600)

it got a little cross with gran'pa driving, and decided to teach him a lesson... Hmmm... why am I all of a sudden thinking about Asimov and the 3 laws of robotics, and wondering if Reanalult techs ever heard of failsafes? It seems that this car might be running on some MS derivate OS, not a solid real time os. (could I be thinking of QNX or are those just letters in my head?)

Well, I've got this figured out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10440607) 4/01-08VCCES04PR.asp

Microsoft Momentum Hits the Road in 2004 Model Year Vehicles

Drive a manual (1)

Oscar26 (126520) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440608)

If everyone didn't have automatic transmissions, this problem wouldn't have been an issue. Just push in the clutch and let the engine spin all it wants. There is no drivetrain connected to it anymore.

Seriously, something smells fishy in the story. I found it hard to believe that the "off" button suddenly broke.

Renault replies (1)

Namishman (732689) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440616)

The official PR spokesman for Renault commented:
It's not a bug, it's a feature.

Talk about your Race Conditions (2, Funny)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440621)

We've all heard of race conditions in computer science, but this goes way too far.

But seriously, why one earth didn't they engineer in a kill switch. A nice big red button. Your furnace has one. You mainframe has one. Every robot in a factory has one, as do most dumber bits of equipment.

Hmmm... French Car, Right? (0)

Alan Livingston (209463) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440623)

Renault's a french company, right? Clearly the overtaking truck triggered the fear response in the car. Apparently, in this case the fear response is flight. Probably better for the passengers than if it chose fight...

I should try that... (3, Funny)

Algan (20532) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440626)

This guy is a hero... he drives 120 mph on a crowded highway and instead of being arrested, he gets the cops to clear the road ahead of him...

This would do wonders for my morning commute :)

remember the bus? (1)

maclar (664114) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440634)

I saw something like this with a bus.. long long time ago. But that was at a movie theater.

Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10440638)

French car? Was it made on a Monday? Oh wait! that's for Italian cars...

Software liability (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440648)

If you put crappy software in a car and it causes an accident, the manufacturer can be sued.

But if you put it in a server, which crashes, bringing down your entire business, you cannot sue the manufacturer.

Can someone explain to me the difference?!

So when do I get my Knight Rider car then? (1)

IgLou (732042) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440650)

Defect? I call that a feature! Whee!
Next thing you know your On Star will start talking to you at times you least expect it.

To quickly flip back to serious though. Probably more will emerge from this. I imagine cars are held to engineering standards correct?

My cruise control stuck once (2, Interesting)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 9 years ago | (#10440651)

If I hit one button it sets the speed, and the other one accelerates to an already set speed. I hit that one, and it got stuck and instead of accelerating me to the speed I wanted, it kept on accelerating. A quick tap on the brakes deactivated it, but it was still unnerving.
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