Skip to comments.Apple's Wozniak: Toyota may have software trouble
Posted on 02/03/2010 6:23:27 AM PST by TigerLikesRooster
Apple's Wozniak: Toyota may have software trouble
Tue Feb 2, 10:22 pm ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak suggested Tuesday in media interviews that Toyota's troubles with a defective accelerator pedal may have to do with software, after his Prius sped up while in cruise-control.
"Since my foot never touches the pedal," Wozniak told ABC News, the problem "cannot be a sticky accelerator pedal.... There might be some bad software in there."
He said the problem in his Prius might be related to the random acceleration issue that has forced Toyota into a massive recall of eight million vehicles worldwide and a halt to US sales and production of eight affected models.
The Prius, a best-selling hybrid, is not one of the vehicles under recall.
Wozniak, who founded Apple Computer -- now Apple Inc -- with Steve Jobs in the 1970s, said he tried unsuccessfully to get Toyota's and US authorities' attention after his 2010 Prius acceleration problems cropped up while he was in cruise control months ago.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
I’m afraid I have to agree with The Woz. The ‘sticky pedals’ thing is nonsense.
I think the fix is replacing a faulty sensor, relay, or the 'puter itself, not the pedal assembly. It may take a Toyota mechanic to spill the beans.
When this happens on a Prius, does it speed up rapidly from 40 to 43mph?
I have said that from the beginning and Im a dumb chit
Woz seemed to make it clear on CNN last night that this is a differenet issue.
He was talking about the Active Cruise (radar following) on the Prius, not the pedal issue common to the other vehicles. He said he didn’t regard this issue as life threatening, but it’s worry me enough not to use the feature.
Some Toyotas have a laser controlled device in their cruise control that will automatically decelerate if overtaking a slower moving vehicle, then automatically accelerate when you change to a clear lane. I have such a vehicle and the first time it happened to me I was startled.
I didn’t start a software company but I do understand my own vehicle.
That might explain why Toyota didn’t appear to be concerned (according to Woz).
My thoughts too ... a Prius? Speeding up? He should be so lucky...
“That might explain why Toyota didnt appear to be concerned (according to Woz).”
That device is actually a safety device. It is not uncommon for people using cruise control to rear end traffic at high speed when distracted.
I think Wozniac ought to stick to marketing overpriced consumer electronics.
This has got the smell of OBAMA written all over it....seems his govmint motors are doing so well....watch out Honda,
your next.....pew ! Obama, you stink!
A software problem is a likely culprit since many of the high profile cases that I have heard about don’t fit the “sticky accelerator” story. The cars speed up without warning, and the brakes don’t override the accelerator.
I never, not once, thought it was a mechanical issue. Still don’t.
Toyota is covering up something here, and it will come out, eventually, to their detriment. Ask Chevy (side saddle tanks) and Ford (exploding Pintos) and Audi (Calif. models gas pedal surge)
They should have been upfront from the get go, now it will live in infamy on the internet.
As an aside, Hyundai has moved into number 4 in Asian autos (52k sales in Jan.), with only 10k cars separating them and Nissan, and now has a Top Ten car, in the Santa Fe. Their Daily Sales Rate is up to 22.8% (Nissan up 16.1%), and in terms of overall increases, they are up 12.9% vs Toyota at -15.8%-2nd highest (%) in Asian sales, with Suburu besting them at 28%-which means Suburu sold a mere 2800 more this year.
We know Ford has finally woke up and is paying attention, and maybe GM as well, but Toyota had best read the writing on the wall, lest they be the GM of tomorrow.
How would Woz know which pedal his foot was on? He hasn’t seen his feet in years.
Do a search for the Therac radiation machine and you’ll see why swapping out hardware controls and safety mechanisms for software can lead to disaster.
If I were a Betting Man I'd offer to wager that what is happening is: the Toy is getting a bad reading from one of its sensors. The computer program is written assuming that the input from the sensor is valid. This is a mistake that green programmers tend to make -- and then they fail to supply the needed validity checking and error recovery code
This could be the cruise control system -- or the idle control motor that is yanking the throttle open but with these things going to full power, as reports seem to indicate -- I'd bet they have a bad sensor reading that is not questioned by the computer program. The obvious thing to do-- if you think you are getting a bad sensor reading --- release the cruise control
Personally though I suspect the idle control motor more -- as this happened to one Toy while the driver was trying to back out of his driveway. He probably didn't have the cruise on -- but that doesn't mean a computer glitch wouldn't affect things though
Therac is exactly what I was thinking.
You do know that Al Gore’s son was arrested for doing 100 mph in a Prius?
Figures he’d own a Prion.
Luckily, I was on a straight road with no traffic. I let the van sit for a few minutes. I figured somehow the computer box got wet and caused a problem. Sitting there would let the heat of the engine melt whatever had frozen up.
That worked. Started it up, drove off. Never had a problem since. But it is scary and could be a very dangerous situation. Plan ahead, know what to do, if it happens to you. These type of emergency situations should be covered in driver's education and maybe through driving license renewals.
As soon as the press releases from Toyota said there was no electrical problem I was doubly sure it wasn’t just a minor pedal problem.
These cars use a “fly-by-wire” system where there is no direct mechanical link cable between the pedal and the throttle body.
Something is getting hosed between the actual pedal the throttle body and computer control.
They’re trying to cover it up like the Toyota vans that required the engine to be pulled to replace the spark plugs, so they made the service interval 60K miles for a tune up. Plugs didn’t last 60K back then.
Or the Nissan vans that caught on fire because the fuel delivery system to the engine kept breaking. Nissan refused to service the vans, made excuses like no parts, and offered sweetheart deals like $3000 over the value of the van to sell another Nissan.
How many old Toyota or Nissan vans are on the road? Zero, haven’t seen one in mucho many years.
Woz is probably correct. The Toyota accelerator pedal is a continuously pressable button that sends a signal to the automobile control unit (computer) that in turn controls a throttle actuator.
This is totally unlike the mechanical linkages that have been used since the automobile was invented. It’s highly probable there’s a software problem.
The MSM has failed to mention Toyota is including a software change with the recall that causes the control computer to ignore signals from the accelerator pedal whenever the brake pedal is depressed. This doesn’t really fix any underlying software cause of self-initiated acceleration, but does end it when the brake pedal is pressed.
BTW, Woz is one of the most underrated geniuses and inventors of the 20th century, having single-handedly invented both the single-board computer and its BIOS.
Fly by wire? Why would they use such an expensive, over-engineered (and therefore fraught with potential problems) method to accelerate a vehicle?
Yeah, going downhill, with a three mile run, and a 30 MPH tail wind.
They (he and Jobs) have done awfully well doing that... and the APPL shareholders thank them for it...
With a combination electric/gas drivetrain we are a long way past just pushing open a butterfly valve with a mechanical linkage.
I can see it on a Prius hybrid, but the original post makes it sound like all Toyota vehicles use this method.
That was pretty much the point I was making.
I just checked with a shop and he said some vehicles still use mechanical throttle linkage but all Toyotas use Fly by Wire...
Woz says it’s scary when he’s zooming along and his Prius super-accelerates to 97 mph..
Software glitch? Power lines?
Bring back push button transmissions
Figures that a hardware guy would blame software. ;^)
See post #25 from catnipman. There is no mechanical linkage, asking for trouble.
Yes over a mile.
The those steep downhill mountain roads make a hybrid dangerous to drive.
Last i saw one of those it was on a 1966 Plymouth Valiant (i had an on the column stick shift on my 64 Valiant).
That slant six was a great engine.
Don’t you mean bring back the Model A with the “Gas Feed” on the steering column...
Woz invented the KIM-1? The man did well, but he wasn’t the first with either an SBC or a BIOS.
Have already seen the beginnings of the class action lawsuits down here.
Bunch of no-driving idiots. OK, that said, I did have an old LTD that drove off in reverse, by itself, one night.
The cure: turn it off when you get out, problem solved.
And you’re still driving a Ford after that experience?
It's a valuable case study for software engineering. But I would have phrased your sentence differently.
The change from hardware to software safety interlocks didn't directly CAUSE the disasters, but removed the controls that would have PREVENTED the disasters.
The actual software bugs that caused the injuries and deaths were present in the hardware-interlocked machine too.
I just saw a lawyer commercial five minutes ago addressing this.
It “T” boned a car stopped at a redlight, didn’t put me in danger. :)
The lady was miffed until she realized no one was driving, then she thought it was hysterical. Her husband, not so much, especially when she told the cop “you can’t give him a ticket, he didn’t do anything!”
The sharks are beginning to circle...
“Some Toyotas have a laser controlled device in their cruise control that will automatically decelerate if overtaking a slower moving vehicle, then automatically accelerate when you change to a clear lane. I have such a vehicle and the first time it happened to me I was startled.”
The laser light assembly probably could be rendered inoperable or erratic by driving through a mud puddle, don’t you suppose?
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