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Electronic–Based Failure Is Not the Reason for Unintended Acceleration in Toyotas

Report: The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has concluded their investigation of the unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles and found no electronic-based links. The administration along with NASA scientist and engineers with specialties in various areas of electronics, electromagnetic, and computer controls have concluded that the only cause for the sudden acceleration that Toyota drivers experienced were due to “sticking accelerator pedals and a design flaw that enabled accelerator pedals to become trapped by floor mats”.

These findings conflict with the findings of Professor Dave Gilbert of Southern Illinois University’s Auto Technology Department. Dr. Gilbert, according to an ABC News Story, claimed “A flaw in the design of Toyota’s electronic acceleration system prevents the car’s onboard computer from detecting and stopping certain short circuits that can trigger sudden speed surges.” His findings triggered the speculations of electronic-based defect that the NHTSA and NASA engineers are now saying was not the cause.

Reaction: When ABC News presented Dr. Gilbert’s findings, I was not comfortable with them. Mechanical components have a higher probability of failure than electronic components. This is one reason consumer goods contain fewer movable parts than their predecessors (example: vcr to dvr). Failures are not necessarily due to bad design, but rather, because of nature. Thus, if I was testing for the cause of the unintended acceleration, I would start with investigating mechanical failure before I moved on to electronic-based defects. I hope the NHTSA and NASA findings put my fellow Toyota car owners minds at ease.

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