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Toyota exec defends 'black boxes' used by automaker

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Toyota exec defends 'black boxes' used by automaker

Recorders 'bug-free,' blames software for miscalculated speeds

Christine Tierney / The Detroit News

A senior Toyota Motor Corp. official defended the accuracy of the automaker's event data recorders, which are being studied as part of investigations into driver complaints of unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles.

Takeshi Uchiyamada, executive vice president in charge of global research and vehicle development, said Monday that Toyota's event data recorders -- the automotive equivalent to airplanes' "black boxes" -- were reliable, contrary to media reports that alleged they had problems.

Uchiyamada told reporters there had been a problem with the software of some of the machines reading the recorders' data that led them to miscalculate the vehicle speeds.

But he said the data in the recorders themselves was accurate, and the problem with the readers' software was fixed before last spring. "All recorders used to evaluate unintended acceleration have been bug-free from the start," he said, speaking through an interpreter. "It doesn't change Toyota's stance as to what is happening."

The automaker says it has identified the causes of unintended acceleration, namely gas pedal entrapment and sticking pedals, and has fixed the vehicles in massive recalls since last fall.

Toyota says it has seen no evidence of a malfunction of its electronic throttle control system, but investigators are still trying to determine whether electronics might have played a role.

At a meeting in Dearborn of experts from the National Academy of Sciences, an official from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration declined to comment when asked if he trusted the data from Toyota's recorders.

"That's one of the subjects we're looking at with NASA," said Roger Saul, director of NHTSA's vehicle research and test center.

NHTSA has asked the space agency for help as well as the National Academy of Sciences in investigating unintended acceleration, not only at Toyota.

Last month, NHTSA officials told members of Congress that the agency had examined the data recorders from Toyotas involved in crashes blamed on unintended acceleration. Its preliminary review had turned up no evidence of malfunctions in the electronics, they said.

On Monday, Professor Todd Hubing of Clemson University told the National Academy of Sciences panel that there wasn't enough data to review. He recommended that all vehicles be "equipped with data recorders that can tell us if the electronic system malfunctioned or not."

Hubing, who teaches vehicle electronic systems integration at the university's International Center for Automotive Research, recommended a standardized approach across the industry.

The National Academy of Sciences is expected to issue a report in June.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100914/AUTO01/9140332/1148/auto01/Toyota-exec-defends--black-boxes--used-by-automaker#ixzz0zVgjXCgt

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TOYOTA: BLACK BOX BUG GIVES FAULTY SPEED READING

By Andrew Ganz

Toyota's top research and development executive says that the automaker's crash data recording devices are prone to a software glitch that could inaccurately record a vehicle's speed at the time of a wreck.

“Toyota has acknowledged previously that the event data recorders are not accurate,” said Takeshi Uchiyamada Toyota's executive vice president in charge of research and development said. “We have been able to determine that there is no defect in the event data recorders.”

Toyota's crash data boxes - known colloquially as black boxes - have come under intense scrutiny over the last few months in response to NHTSA's investigation into unintended acceleration claims about the automaker's products. Last month, the automaker acknowledged that it was uncertain about the data recorders' reliability and now it says it has positively identified a "software bug in the event data recorder readers that download data," according to Uchiyamada.

"The bug had to do with data that indicated speed."

The query comes primarily as a result of a 2007 accident involving a Tundra pickup. The truck's black box indicated that the vehicle was traveling at 170 miles per hour, a figure physically impossible for the Tundra to achieve without substantial modifications.

Toyota says that the boxes themselves are not defective, but that a software glitch could cause the recorder to incorrectly report the vehicle's speed at the time of a wreck. The electronic data recorders measure more than just speed; they also report back on throttle positions and brake pressure.

Using the data recorders, NHTSA has determined that drivers of 35 of the 58 unintended acceleration crashes did not apply the brakes to stop their out-of-control vehicles.

link:

http://www.leftlanenews.com/toyota-black-box-bug-gives-faulty-speed-reading.html

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Hubing, who teaches vehicle electronic systems integration at the university's International Center for Automotive Research, recommended a standardized approach across the industry.

I thought we had one of those 'standardized' systems for decades now. Is it not this highly technological device, otherwise known as a 'c-a-b-l-e'?

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Report: Toyota admits black box bug can give false speed readings

by Zach Bowman (RSS feed) on Sep 14th 2010 at 10:28AM

Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota executive vice president in charge of research and development, has confirmed that a software glitch has caused the company's event data recorder readers to misinterpret speeds during accidents. According to Automotive News, the executive admits that his company had previously underscored the fact that it couldn't say whether or not there was a problem with the black boxes themselves. The software bug in the readers came to light during the manufacturer's investigation into instances of unintended acceleration. Even so, Uchiyamda (above, left) says that there's no reason to doubt the rest of the readings from the EDRs.

Both Toyota and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration have found that in the majority of runaway vehicle cases, driver error has been to blame, though some incidents were caused by entrapped accelerator pedals.

Despite the problem, Uchiyamada has warned against using the EDR reader defect to discredit all of the data collected by the devices, noting that the glitch has since been remedied and that the rest of the readings accurately recorded.

link:

http://www.autoblog.com/2010/09/14/report-toyota-admits-black-box-bug-can-give-false-speed-reading/

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Toyota software glitch led to faulty black box data

09:32 AM

A software glitch in Toyota's crash data boxes can provide inaccurate vehicle speeds, a top Toyota executive says.

Automotive News reports that Takeshi Uchiyamada, executive vice president in charge of research and development, says the boxes are reliable, for the most part. But glitches discovered in the spring made it appear that some vehicles were going faster than they were, he says. The problem has since been corrected.

Uchiyamada said in one instance, a Toyota Tundra that crashed into a tree was shown by the data recorder to be going 170 mph.

USA TODAY looked at the crash data recorders, also known as black boxes, and found that some of the data could be wrong in many boxes.

All of the other data on the box was correct, he said:

"We wanted to clarify today that is not the case. The event data recorder was always accurate, and the only reading that was inaccurate was speed," he said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is still investigating unintended acceleration in Toyota models.

The automaker contends that there are no software glitches that cause the problem. They say floor mats and a sticky pedal problem led to the more than 13 million global recalls since November.

link:

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2010/09/toyota-software-glitch-led-to-faulty-black-box-data/1

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Toyota says software glitch in data boxes can give faulty speed readings

By RICK KRANZ, AUTOMOTIVE NEWS

A top Toyota executive says the crash data boxes in its vehicles are reliable but a bug in the software that reads the information can provide inaccurate vehicle speeds.

The disclosure comes as the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration continues its investigation into unintended acceleration of Toyota models.

“Toyota has acknowledged previously that the event data recorders are not accurate,” said Takeshi Uchiyamada, executive vice president in charge of research and development. “We have been able to determine that there is no defect in the event data recorders.”

But, “we have found that there was a software bug in the event data recorder readers that download data. The bug had to do with data that indicated speed,” he said. The issue was discovered this past spring and has since been corrected.

The event data recorder, known as an EDR, also records such information as throttle position and braking pressure.

Last month Toyota Motor Corp. said it had reviewed 3,000 complaints of unintended acceleration since March and said the results backed its long-held stance: There have been no electronic glitches that cause vehicles to surge out of control.

Toyota has said other possible explanations for the complaints include driver error and foreign objects trapping the accelerator. Additionally, some drivers still are using the wrong floor mats, months after the automaker warned customers to take them out.

Last month, NHTSA said brakes were not applied by drivers of Toyota vehicles in at least 35 of 58 crashes blamed on unintended acceleration. The government agency also said there was no evidence of electronics-related causes for the accidents in reviewing the electronic data recorders.

During an interview session Monday with reporters in Detroit, Uchiyamada referred to a 2007 crash involving a Tundra pickup that hit a tree. The data indicated the truck was traveling more than 170 miles per hour.

He said critics were saying the speed was not feasible so they concluded the “EDR cannot be trusted.”

“We wanted to clarify today that is not the case. The event data recorder was always accurate, and the only reading that was inaccurate was speed,” he said.

Uchiyamada said many of the vehicles investigated early for sudden acceleration were reinvestigated, and that “in the rechecks there has been no evidence of sudden surges.”

Since November, Toyota has recalled more than 13 million vehicles worldwide, including more than 10 million in the United States, most of them to address unintended acceleration.

Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20100914/CARNEWS/100919945#ixzz0zYo3BylL

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