Monday, March 29, 2010

Rocket Science?!

Did Toyota ask for "help"? This appears to be yet another waste of my tax dollars.

Associated Press (Yahoo!)
NASA will help probe Toyota acceleration problem

WASHINGTON – NASA and the National Academy of Sciences are joining the government's effort to figure out what caused the sudden acceleration problems that led to Toyota's massive recalls.

NASA scientists with expertise in electronics will help the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study potential electronic ties to unintended acceleration in Toyotas. NASA's knowledge of electronics, computer hardware and software and hazard analysis will ensure a comprehensive review, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Monday.

In a separate study, the National Academy of Sciences will examine unwanted acceleration and electronic vehicle controls in cars from around the auto industry, LaHood said. The National Academy is an independent organization chartered by Congress.

The academy study, expected to take 15 months, will review acceleration problems and recommend how the government can ensure the safety of vehicle electronic control systems.

Why is NASA and NAS getting involved? I don't think this is NASA's expertise or mandate. Also, I thought they were having budget problems and don't even have enough money to complete their space missions. Is this the best use of NASA resources... 15 months and $3 million?

At the end of the article, it said that this would end up being a peer-reviewed paper. Is this what passes for academic research these days? Really, it shouldn't be that hard to figure this out. People built the car and all its systems... it's not like it's some complex mysterious natural phenomenon. Why don't they just ask the Toyota software engineers instead of doing this weird "scientific" reverse engineering project? This reminds me of a class I saw at UCLA. I think it was an English Literature class on Stephen King's novels. I can understand studying Shakespeare or other dead authors but Stephen King? If you don't get his writing, just go ask him. Sheesh...

We have a 1999 4Runner and a 2002 Camry. They were built before all this drive-by-wire stuff but I would still buy a Toyota instead of GM or Chrysler today. I'm guessing the real purpose of this is to keep Toyota's problems in the media spotlight for the next year or so to the benefit of Government Motors (GM) and its union bosses.

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