Oh the Irony of it All... The Pulitzer Prize Story that the LA Times DIDN'T Get

Discussion in 'Prius, Hybrid, EV and Alt-Fuel News' started by DeadPhish, Mar 7, 2014.

  1. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    maybe break them up into separate companies like at&t.
     
  2. kbeck

    kbeck Active Member

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    Save me. DeadPhish, here's the link from October of 2013, in this very forum:

    Discussion

    I read Mr. David Barr's deposition. Mr. Barr was hired to deconstruct the Toyota Camry engine control firmware and hardware design. In a safe room, on Toyota premises, he and a team of several others went through the code with a fine-toothed comb. Mr. Barr is eminently qualified to do such analyses, seeing as he's written books on the subject, has written numerous papers on the subject, and, at this time, edits a technical magazine on the subject.

    The trial was on a runaway Camry. The driver was seriously injured, the passenger was killed.

    The deposition was done in the court room in front of the jurors. Toyota's lawyers had no answer to his claims, none. And, shortly thereafter, the jurors found for the plaintiffs: Toyota lost. And, the next day, settled.

    The judge thought the information in Mr. Barr's testimony was so important Toyota's attempts to get it sealed failed; it didn't help that Toyota lost the trial, and was only saved from the penalty phase by Toyota's quick settlement.

    Go read the above thread. There's links to the testimony, which, as far as I know, are still up on the web. There was a long, involved discussion of the trial and Barr's testimony on Electronic Design News (EDN), a respected EE industry rag.

    There were horrible design practices evident in the firmware design. Among the horrors were no change control, no MR system, disabling of the system watchdog timer, and a nearly full RAM space with the stack just waiting (on interrupt) to overwrite critical control parameters. Analysis of the code revealed poorly designed code that was technically unmaintainable, to the point where any change was almost guaranteed to create other faults.. Which is probably why Toyota was afraid to touch the thing. Fixing it would likely have required a complete re-write from scratch, with a strong possibility of having to update the hardware, too.

    Read the testimony, the unchallenged testimony. Toyota making a falsehood to NASA, then covering up the falsehood after the fact.

    I'm, personally, still furious at Toyota. Periodically, in my line of work, I happen to design and code microcontrollers. It's definitely a part-time job: I don't claim to be an expert. But, darn it, I know better not to do some of the stunts that the Toyota engineers pulled on that engine controller. Stack overflow? Not detecting stack overflow? Disabled watchdog timers? Give me a break.

    The junk I've worked on would not be considered human-safety. (Unless a low-speed fan is your idea of a human safety issue..). The stuff Toyota was working on was.

    What may not be clear from the deposition is that the software was so crappy and out of control is that, once the internal variable space had been overwritten, practically any engine malfunction could have occurred. He personally investigated and tested one case (scared the heck out of the tester) where the cruise control "stuck" the throttle in one position. But if you want full acceleration, no throttle, the engine trying to turn itself into knots, etc.: Any of those would have been possible, too. He spent over a year going through this stuff.. It was bad.

    My previous comments about a Toyota coverup stand.

    KBeck.
     
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  3. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    Kbeck,

    I seem to remember you posting these same opinions years ago. What is the point ?
    And why do you own the same car ? Trade it in for a GM and be happy.
     
  4. kbeck

    kbeck Active Member

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    Um. This thread starts with a complaint that the L.A. Times completely missed the GM recall issue with the bad ignition switches and then goes on to make the (purported) point that the LA Times did a witch hunt on Toyota a couple of years ago. The poster then claimed that There Was Nothing Wrong With The Toyotas and therefore implied the LA Times people were idiots or worse.

    I had a problem with the claim that "There was Nothing Wrong With The Toyotas." It took until October of 2013 for us to find out, but there was plenty wrong with the Toyotas. Not Priuses, as far as I know. The LA Times claimed, according to the OP, that there was a coverup by Toyota.

    Whether that claim by the Times was mistaken or not, there now does appear to have been a coverup. That actually succeeded. With dead people lying around. And, based upon those Toyota redactions in the NASA report, not inadvertent at all, but purposeful.

    So, if the OP wanted to say that (a) the LA Times missed GM and (b) inadvertently accused Toyota correctly, fine. But he didn't. Which is why I posted.

    KBeck.
     
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  5. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    Fine, I hope you feel better now.
    But best to get back under the tin foil, the cosmic rays are bad this year.
     
  6. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    The cop was driving a loaner lexus. The dealer had doubled up the floor mats, and ignored the unintended acceleration complaint from the previous customer.

    We do know that this was not a case of driver error.

    The dealer is responsable because they doubled up the floor mats, something they were notified was unsafe. They also ignored complaints of unintended acceleration and like many toyota and lexus dealerships did nothing to investigate, they just blamed it on the driver.

    Facts came to light later that toyota was also completely responsable. Dealers were discouraged from taking unintended acceleration claims seriously. Toyota was actively fighting the NHTSA's recomendation of using brake interlocks, a technology that was inexpensive and would have saved the cop and his families life even with the doubled up floor mats. Toyota went so far as to illegally cover up safety information from nhsta investigators, which now they have paid minor fines for, and to hire NHTSA employees to keep the regulator from impossing proper regulation, a legal but completely unethical act.

    I don't think faulty elcctronics was involved in this case. Given Toyota's past cover ups we can't completely rule it out, but incidents greatly decreased when toyota modified or replaced faulty pedals and added brake interlockin software.
     
  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    toy has paid a lot of fines, is there any proof of faulty/defective product? i still can't find anything definite like this gm switch issue.
     
  8. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    door switches on cas catching fire, millions recalled. Yes. No dealths from that.

    The definite on Toyota on unintended accelearion was corporate policy to thwart investigations and fixes. There were at least 20 documents including the smoking gun of a memo telling how much money they saved by not doing what the nhtsa asked. Illegal coverup of the accelerator pedal. Hiding defects in cars with the same parts from other regions of the world. Toyota would not have paid the NHTSA fines and settled the court cases for so much money if they thought they had done nothing wrong. Internal documents had engineers asking why they weren't implementing brake interlock. Corporate policy to without reading of black boxes at customers request, making sure acceleration problems could not be confirmed.

    We don't know how many died because of toyota's policies in unintended accelearion but it looks like hundreds not thousands in the US, and its unlikely we can know as toyota made sure there was not a record. All we have is the difference in fatality rates between these cars and cars from other manufacturers.

    Bad on GM but the LA times was absolutely correct that their was a conspiracy at toyota.
     
  9. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    sounds more like a lot of bluster, no facts, and a company that decided the politically correct thing to do was a mia culpa. not arguing any of your points, but if no one else has been able to find anything wrong, maybe toy couldn't either. in the end, maybe nothing was/is wrong.
     
  10. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    Toyota found 4 things wrong sticky pedals, pedals that were too long, toyota kept safety information in one market away from other markets, dealers did not report and investigate customer complaints. The first they covered up, the second it seems they didn't beleive at first, the third and forth were a disturbing part of the corporate culture that they now are trying to correct or at least they are saying they are.

    Two other disturbing things came out of the investigation. Toyota actively fought in court not to read black boxes, and it looks like they purposefully had these boxes not record pertinant information. Toyota has now corrected this, after being publically shamed. They also were caught with docoments bragging about saving money by not putting in a safety device that would have saved lives.

    We don't know what else toyota knows or would be found. Given the fact that toyota has been caught covering up information multiple times, it is likely a jury would not believe them that they had no more information. The standard is not the one toyota would like, that you have to show electronics failed, only that you need to show that they could fail, and that toyota did not investigate the failure, and further refuesed to install brake interlocks. Whether there is an electronic problem or not, continuing fighting after you have been caught lieing can open them up for more liability. Its best that they settled and put this thing to bed. It would have been better if they had never lied, but they can't take those things back. There were 371 active cases that were settled this is far more than the gm ignition switch.

    The gm ignition switch problems are awful
    GM ignition-switch recall poses first big test for new CEO| Reuters
    10 years after first reported, and a reported 13 deaths. Many could have been prevented if gm had honestly investigated, but come on, its a lot easier to notice a story with 371 cases of injury and/or death than 13. I hope the new ceo of gm will handle the investigation properely and change the safety culture in gm.
     
  11. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    Hogwash.

    Lawyers, a long drawn out case, and bad PR lead to settlements all the time.
     
  12. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    i remember the sticky pedals made in indiana, but i'm not convinced the pedal length issue was toyota's fault.
     
  13. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    I don't want to debate, but its really fairly simple. A suplier builds a part to toyota''s specifications, and toyota uses it for years blaming drivers for unintended acceleration. When they find out from enough complaints in europe, Toyota informed the manufacturer, but not the NHTSA as is required by law. Only much later after a whistle blower from the supplier finally came forward, did toyota

    Toyota is responsable to make sure all the parts in its cars are safe, and to investigate when they possibly are not. Its supplier was at fault for only a small part of the time. Toyota by choosing not to investigate, let the problem go on for years, even after by luck some customer or lawyer was mad enough that they investigated, they covered up the problem from the safety agency. They were fined but it was a slap on the wrist. Both the NHTSA and Toyota failed the american consumer here. Toyota's actions were both unethical and illegal when it came to the sticky pedals.
     
  14. 3PriusMike

    3PriusMike Prius owner since 2000, Tesla M3 2018

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    Yes, but there are some who would argue (with respect to the dead family) that despite the improper floor mats a cop should have had enough cool to not panic and shift to neutral and/or shut off the car.

    IMO, it is important to keep bringing this point up when discussing this so that the average driver knows that even if this happens to you (maybe something falls on the floor and jams under the accelerator) that you are absolutely aware that you can shift to neutral and/or press and hold the start/power button in order to stop the engine from powering the wheels -- in addition to engaging the brakes. Of course, taking your foot off the accelerator and braking is the first response. Re-braking with your foot on the correct pedal is the second response. The brakes are designed to be more powerful the the engine. And software (when so equipped) will disable the acceleration command when enough braking force is applied. Shifting to neutral or powering off is a last resort.

    It is a good idea, when in a safe place, to practice shifting to neutral, then back to drive. You have to hold the shifter in "N" for a couple of seconds before it shifts; this prevents an accidental momentary bump from causing a shift

    Mike
     
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  15. DeadPhish

    DeadPhish Senior Member

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    No issue with the sticky pedal problem which first surfaced in Europe, was reported to the authorities in Europe but was not reported to the NHTSA here in NA. For that TM should have been and was fined. They were wrong.

    The length of the pedal issue I don't agree was a TM-created fault. It was the fault of users and dealers such as the Lexus dealer in SD that did something extraordinarily dangerous by stacking unsecured aftermarket all-weather mats on top of the OEM carpetted mats. I don't believe that anyone could have foreseen that users would do something as foolish as that. But then reports began to come into the NHTSA and TMS about entrapment. As a result a 'recall' was issued in '06 or '07 I believe specifically instructing users not to use the all-weather mats in that manner.

    When used properly either the OEM carpet mats or the aftermarket all-weather mats are perfectly safe without any redesign of any vehicle. Certainly no pedals need to be shaved if the products are used properly. It's only when idiot users ignore the proper installation instructions that a problem occurs.
     
  16. DeadPhish

    DeadPhish Senior Member

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    You can also shift into reverse at any speed. I've done it at higher speeds on an empty road to test it and then in traffic at about 45 mph.
     
  17. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    I did that for years. I admit to being an idiot on certain subjects, and doing idiotic things from time to time, but I suspect many people didn't give a second thought of throwing aftermarket, universal all-weather mats, that don't work with a car's mat latch or snap, on top of the regular ones.

    I know how to swim. My first assumption is that everybody knows how to swim. Turns out that isn't true. Fortunately, I'm not in a position overseeing pool safety devices and regulations. Car designers are in that position when it comes designing safety with the users in mind.
     
  18. Troy Heagy

    Troy Heagy Member

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    I wasn't tried to deflect from GM..... I think BOTH GM and Toyota deserved to be screwed to the walk.

    But then I tend to hate corporations. I will never understand people who defend a megacorps wrongdoing as if Toyota or GM or Apple were a favored sportsteam.

    I say nail them all to the wall. Toyota, Honda, GM, Ford, Volkswsgen, and on and on. Every time they screw a customer ("your engine died; it's our fault; but were voiding the warranty & sticking you with a $7000 repair bill") the corporation should be nailed & nailed hard.

    If the case of deaths, revoke their US corporate license.
     
  19. 3PriusMike

    3PriusMike Prius owner since 2000, Tesla M3 2018

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    So then every old car company would be out of business? Since people have died in every make and model of car. (except maybe Tesla).

    Mike
     
  20. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    You know in many cases there is the idea of contributions to accidents. It often takes many people doing something wrong.

    Here we had the dealer, deciding not to investigate customers complaining of unintended acceleration. The dealer doubling up floor mats. Here we have IMHO primary fault.

    Then we get to the manufacturer, refusing to give correct information to the safety agency, refusing to implement a brake interlock that the safety agency reported multiple times, continusly telling dealers and the safety agency that its all the drivers fault. If the manufacturer had acted properly (it commited illegal acts and unethical acts in dealing with the NHTSA) then no one would have died.

    Now we come to blaiming the dead driver. Yes if he had been trained to shift into neutral then it is likely there would have been no crash, but don't you think the manufacturer should have trained the dealer not to double up floor mats and to investigate drivers complaints? The 911 operator did not think of telling the driver to put in neutral either. Its a side show to blame the dead driver.
    Let me stop you there the brakes were fried, probably damaged by the previous driver that reported unintended acceleration. Sure you should advise people to shift into neutral, but turning the car off is what is accidentally happening with these gm problems, and in off the airbags don't work. You should do neutral, not turn off the car.
     
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