Toyota Recall Due To Sticky Pedal Clarified By Result of NASA Study

By on Feb 9, 2011 in Automobile, Business, Current Events, United States Comments

The result of a recent NASA study on the Toyota Recall due to sticky pedal, posted at the NASA website, suggests that faulty electronics is not the cause of the unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles that led to the recall of about 8 million Toyota cars in the US last year.

Among the car models that Toyota recalled in March 2010 due to the sticky accelerator pad were:

  • Certain 2009-2010 RAV4
  • Certain 2009-2010 Corolla
  • 2009-2010 Matrix
  • 2005-2010 Avalon
  • Certain 2007-2010 Camry
  • Certain 2009 Camry Hybrid
  • Certain 2010 Highlander
  • 2007-2010 Tundra
  • 2008-2010 Sequoia

Based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) record, at least 50 people lost their lives due to the Toyota pedal flaw. The NHTSA identified two mechanical defects that caused sticky pedal problem:

  • “sticking” accelerator pedals, and a
  • design flaw that caused the pedals to become trapped by floor mats.

Below is the complete result of the NASA‘s Toyota study provided by the Department of Transportation.

NASA’s Toyota Study Released by Dept. of Transportation

WASHINGTON — The results of a ten-month study by 30 NASA engineers of possible electronic causes of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles was released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

“NASA found no evidence that a malfunction in electronics caused large unintended accelerations,” said Michael Kirsch, principal engineer and team lead of the study from the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) based at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
At the request of Congress, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began the study in March 2010 and asked NASA engineers with expertise in electronic and software systems to look into consumer claims that electronic systems may have played a role in reports of unintended acceleration.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and officials who led the study for NASA and NHTSA provided the results on Tuesday afternoon in Washington.

LaHood thanked NASA and other DOT engineers saying, “We enlisted the best and brightest engineers to study Toyota’s electronics systems, and the verdict is in.”

Two mechanical safety defects were identified by NHTSA more than a year ago: “sticking” accelerator pedals and a design flaw that enabled accelerator pedals to become trapped by floor mats. These are the only known causes for the reported unintended acceleration incidents. Toyota recalled nearly 8 million vehicles in the United States for these two defects.

Kirsch went on to say that, “NASA and NHTSA engineers stood side by side in this study to try to find the root cause of the problem. We have a strong team including some of the best electronics and software experts in NASA.”

The NESC team included NASA software experts in California to NASA hardware and systems engineers in Maryland who examined computer controlled electronic systems, electromagnetic interference and software to determine if these systems played a role in incidents of unintended acceleration.

The NESC was established in 2003 in response to the space shuttle Columbia accident with a goal to enable complex problem solving using experts from anywhere in the world. This approach allows the best engineers in their respective disciplines to apply their expertise to tough technical problems. To date, the NESC has engaged in approximately 400 independent technical assessments. Recently, the NESC provided support to the trapped miners in Chile by developing suggested design requirements for the rescue system.

Below is Toyota‘s official response to the recent results of the NASA Study.

February 08, 2011
Toyota Statement in Response to NHTSA/NASA Study

In response to the publication by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of an extensive review of the electronic throttle control systems in Toyota and Lexus vehicles, conducted with the assistance of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Steve St. Angelo, Toyota’s Chief Quality Officer for North America, said:

“Toyota welcomes the findings of NASA and NHTSA regarding our Electronic Throttle Control System with intelligence (ETCS-i) and we appreciate the thoroughness of their review. We believe this rigorous scientific analysis by some of America’s foremost engineers should further reinforce confidence in the safety of Toyota and Lexus vehicles. We hope this important study will help put to rest unsupported speculation about Toyota’s ETCS-i, which is well-designed and well-tested to ensure that a real world, un-commanded acceleration of the vehicle cannot occur.

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