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Wozniak cites 'scary' 2010 Prius acceleration problem

Discussion in 'Prius, Hybrid, EV and Alt-Fuel News' started by cwerdna, Feb 2, 2010.

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  1. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    When Steve Wozniak speaks, a lot of people tend to listen. And when the Woz talks about software, people tend to listen harder. Yesterday Steve Wozniak was speaking at the Discovery Forum 2010, but he decided to veer off topic during his presentation to talk about problems with his 2010 Prius:
    "I don't get upset and teed off at things in life, except computers that don't work right," was his segue into the Toyota comments. Then he said he had been trying to get through to Toyota and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) for three months but could not get anyone to explore an alleged software-related acceleration problem--as described below. "Toyota has this accelerator problem we've all heard about," Wozniak said. "Well, I have many models of Prius that got recalled, but I have a new model that didn't get recalled. This new model has an accelerator that goes wild but only under certain conditions of cruise control. And I can repeat it over and over and over again--safely." "This is software. It's not a bad accelerator pedal. It's very scary, but luckily for me I can hit the brakes," he said.​
    There has been LOTS of discussion on various forms of sudden acceleration in the 2010 Prius, but this is the first I'm hearing about it while in cruise control. It should be interesting to see the fallout from Wozniak's comment in the coming days. Via Cnet Photo from Digibarn
  2. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web 03 and 10 Prius

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    This is weird. Steve is not someone to panic so I'm wondering what the heck he is talking about? I consistently drive on cruise control and it works well.

    Bob Wilson
  3. risingsun

    risingsun seeker of the way

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    May be unrelated, but I have found that on occasion, when I set the cruise, the dash indicator for the set lights, but when I let up on the pedal the car will slow by around 5 MPH before the cruise actually takes over, really "stomping" on the pedal to get itself back up to the set speed before returning to what I consider normal function. Not sure if this is what he's talking about, but it didn't seem normal to me. Doesn't do this every time, and when I have experienced it, I have been driving at highway speeds up a gradual hill.
  4. Sandy

    Sandy Hippi Chick

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  5. Codyroo

    Codyroo Senior Member

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    Heck if he can repeat it consistently, then Toyota or other concerned regulatory agencies should beat a path to his door and have him demonstrate the issue. It's not like this guy is unknown or some charlatan who would claim such a thing in order to plug some endeavor he is undertaking (new book, wrinkle removing tonic, etc).

    I hope this all works out and allows for an improved and safer product.
  6. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    If all you guys weren't clogging the Toyota Customer Experience Center with complaints about failed HID headlights, maybe that center would pay attention when someone like Wozniak complains... :D

    That could be the straw on the camel's back...
    3 people like this.
  7. Sandy

    Sandy Hippi Chick

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    it Woz or iWoz....LOL
  8. efusco

    efusco Troll Slayer Staff Member

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    :rockon:
    I think so...his comments will go viral and Toyota will have to respond.
  9. HTMLSpinnr

    HTMLSpinnr Moderator Staff Member

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    The photo here is a Gen II.
  10. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Sheez Steve! You can't ride a bike to work? What'd you do ... swallow the hindenburg?

    :confused:


    I wonder if he complains about ultra poor range on his segway ...
    ;)

    .
    2 people like this.
  11. dr_d12

    dr_d12 Member

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    It shouldn't be too hard for a camera crew to record some proof of a such a scary and repeatable problem, if there is one.
  12. Politburo

    Politburo Active Member

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    It seems like an odd set of circumstances came together to create this issue.

    1. He experiences a reproducible issue with the GenIII cruise control.
    2. He doesn't personally go to the dealer with the issue, instead sends his wife. Unclear from the writeup if his wife ever personally experienced the issue.
    3. His wife doesn't get anywhere, he doesn't have time to follow up personally.
    4. His calls to Toyota are dropped by his iPhone (ha)
    5. He can't figure out a simple web form on the NHTSA site.
    6. He can't believe that the level 1 tech at NHTSA didn't immediately call the President.
    7. He tells the story informally, it gets reported to CNET, and he is forced to comment on the record.

    While I don't deny he has a problem, and don't deny that things might have been handled better, I really do wonder what he expects as a response.
  13. dr_d12

    dr_d12 Member

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    5. He thinks he is too important to waste time filling out a form on the NHTSA site.
    6. He thinks he is too smart to bother talking to a level 1 tech ... who didn't immediately call the President ...
  14. jdenenberg

    jdenenberg EE Professor

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    The Prius cruise control has flaws, but none of them are really dangerous as the brake pedal quickly defeats it.

    When I pause the CC in my 2004 Prius (either using the brake or the control stick) to slow down and then press the control stick down to reset the speed to the current lower speed, it will often accelerate to it's previous higher speed setting which can be disconcerting.

    I tend now to live with this undesirable CC behavior by pressing the control stick down twice to prevent the unwanted acceleration. If I wanted the earlier faster setting I would have pressed the control stick up (Resume).

    The problem is either in the CC software but, more likely, is a misreading of the switch contact in the control stick due to contact bounce (which could be corrected in SW as well).

    JeffD
  15. spinkao

    spinkao New Member

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    Interesting. I use exactly this sequence (release CC, let the car slow down by coasting and then re-engage CC) very often in my 2008 Prius and it never did anything undesirable. Perhaps they fixed this bug since 2004?
  16. dogfriend

    dogfriend Human - Animal Hybrid

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    He has the sedentary engineer physique. I have seen it many times. I was working on my own version, but didn't like it so I lost about 30 lbs to get my current gorilla physique. :madgrin:
  17. jdenenberg

    jdenenberg EE Professor

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    Your contact may not bounce.

    JeffD
  18. jdenenberg

    jdenenberg EE Professor

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    Not all Engineers get large as they age.

    JeffD
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  19. priushippie

    priushippie New Member

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    8. He is a big fat blowhard who doesn't really know what he is talking about.
  20. stevemcelroy

    stevemcelroy Active Member

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    I have an 09 and have had a similar issue with cruise control, though I have not been able to reproduce it constantly. What happened was when the cruise was engaged and I braked every once in a while the car would just accelerate back up to the set speed even though I did not re-engage the cruise. I had the car at the dealership this summer and brought it up to the service department - they were not terribly helpful - I made sure that the service manager made a note of this on my record and got a printed copy.

    Hopefully with the attention on this they will finally take this seriously as I have not been willing to use cruise control for the last 6+ months.
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