Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Real Cause of the Toyota Acceleration Problem

Toyota says their electronics and software are fine. Others say it is definitely the electronics. If you looked at the way these kinds of stories typically get portrayed in the media; you might think one side or other must be correct?

I think both sides are missing something -- and that there is in fact a different option. The environment.

What I mean by that is this: The electronics may in fact be correct in both design and function; but when interacted with by unexpected environmental actors -- disaster occurs.

What might that actually look like?

Well, on any given circuit board the difference between a binary one and a binary zero is measured in a couple of volts along a circuit. What if a piece of nearby equipment inadvertently acts like an antenna in these vehicles, perhaps when a police officer lights up the car with his radar detector? Might that not introduce a problem in the otherwise correct circuit board? Perhaps.

Perhaps my speculative scenario is wrong above -- but still stand behind the concept; when you've got top engineering talent passionate about opposite sides of an argument; a third way is often the correct/accurate approach.