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.


Blogger Mat said...

I've read articles that are in line with your hypothesis, in that stray magnetic fields are causing interference that is then causing the malfunctions. On mission critical electronic components of say a jet, you must design and properly shield the components. This is no different. If the jet (or the Toyota) crashes and people die you're still at fault for not taking into account what could happen to the mission-critical components while in-use.

The fact that these components test out fine in a lab means to me that they have made faulty assumptions in their lab that don't reflect the 'real world'. Ultimately they need to find the root cause, duplicate it in the lab, and then correct it.

My Ford is now 12 years old and still runs like a champ. ;)

9:10 AM  

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