What went wrong at Toyota

Discussion in 'Architecture & Engineering' started by kmguru, Mar 1, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. kmguru Staff Member

    A great article discussing Complex Systems:

    Design engineers speculate on how the Japanese automaker got itself into the ugly mess it’s in

    Renowned for its high quality and reliability, it is peculiar to see Toyota caught up in a swirl of controversy sparked by the stuck-gas-pedal problem that surfaced publicly in January.

    The uncertainty over a technical fix underscores the fiendish challenge of designing complex systems. Yet engineers do get it right the majority of the time. If not, we’d have cars driving off the road and planes falling out of the sky left and right.

    And when they don’t get it right, there’s a recall. Most recalls, however, don’t wind up as the subject of a Congressional hearing.

    So we’re left with the question of what went wrong this time? Design News asked 150 engineers, many with first-hand experience in working with complex systems, to weigh in.


    the software was indeed just too complex to be simply verified in a timely manner
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Targets targets targets.
    Keep piling on the pressure for continual improvement and people will start to fiddle their figures.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. kmguru Staff Member

    I think, the pressure was to increase sales to be the number one and cut corners to make more profit. Those two are bad combination.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    a side issue, what was with the US dealers apologising to Mr Toyota for the questions from the congressional inquiry? The US pollies finally do there job and its concidered "impolite"????????
  8. Lawson's Criterion Registered Senior Member

    Dear Kmguru:

    Events like this are the reason why you should always manufacture your own microchips. Prudence dictates it.

    LC, Ph.D., Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    Los Alamos, New Mexico.
  9. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Being in a different part of the world, you wouldn't have known about it unless you read the news articles very carefully. The ones who were being so apologetic were from states in which Toyota has a heavy manufacturing base. Read that as "jobs."
  10. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    actually no, it didnt take a huge effort on my part. It was part of the news story on ABC radio's AM program (in depth news rather than the 15 sec per story type hourly news) and they actually played the apology as part of the story. That being said i dont know how to take your first comment anyway, what the fact that i know at all is a bad thing? Im sorry its not how it looks overseas that apaled me about the story, its the fact that an apology was being offered for the pollies finally doing there jobs. Concidering the comments made around here by yourself and others as to the incopitance of US pollies on both sides of the fence, this should be lauded as the a good step into better pollies. You should be DEMANDING this of all your pollies, that they do the job for which you are paying them
  11. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Just want make sure that you understand here that I meant no offense by saying you were on the other side of the world. My point was that I would be in the same boat about something that happened in your part of the world since it usually doesn't affect me personally.

    From my personal perspective, I'd like for them to do a MUCH better job on EVERYTHING. Unfortunately, the way our system works, I don't get to vote on the people that run for office in other states - only the ones from MY state. And mine amounts to only 1/50 of the people in congress.
  12. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    you know, your clarfication doesnt really explain what you were talking about. im still wondering if its the fact i KNOW they apologised for "the shameful actions of our congressmen" (exact quote with the eception of the last word, cant rember if it was congressmen or sentors) OR if you mean i wouldnt realise the apology came from states which manifacture toyoters?

    If the second then you missed a point, ie WHO was doing the apologising. The apology came on behalf of toyotor DEALERS which is an interesting point in and of itself. You would expect these people (who i assume own the buiness as a franchies) to be pissed off that they have lost sales because of the missmanagement of quality control in the manifacturing proccess. However my main point was why hasnt anyone else been out defending congress? even the congressmen. I have been waiting for a story about the pollies hitting back but it never came, it seems to have been dropped as an issue vertually as soon as the hearing was over. Now its possable that congress hits back would be a local story and there for not have made it to our news where as Mr Toyota hauled before congress is an international one but i wonder if thats the case
  13. draqon Banned Banned

    I bet Toyota was just mass targeted by other car companies to advertise of their long car brakes.
  14. PieAreSquared Woo is resistant to reason Registered Senior Member

    you really up on the hill?
  15. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Yes, the dealers were being apologetic also - because they fear being cut off if Toyota decides to cut back. And with the damage to their reputation and sales, that just might happen.

    Congress just made a basic "show of concern" - grandstanding - with no real intent of pushing it any farther. Politicians are good at that game - appearing to do something while actually accomplishing nothing.
  16. kmguru Staff Member

    I do not think it is the Chip's fault. I think it is the failure to do a rigorous Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA) to determine what would happen when a part failed in a particular way or data is incorrect. It is easy to do for hardware but very difficult to do for complex software with multi-parameter multi-level control.

    Imagine when Artificial Intelligence is implemented it would be really messy. Never buy an AI appliance from Toyota?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    What drives me absolutely nuts is that these people drive around for several minutes--long enough to make a bloody phone call!--and it NEVER occurs to them, "Hey, why don't I just shift the damn transmission into neutral?

    I can understand not thinking of that in the first few seconds. You're surprised, the universe isn't working the way it's supposed to, sure, okay. But the car has been accelerating for so long that the brakes have melted and it's going NINETY MILES AN HOUR! You've tried everything you can think of and you're now looking for something soft to crash into and talking to somebody at 911... and you STILL haven't figured out that your transmission has a NEUTRAL? Okay then, how about TURNING OFF THE IGNITION!

    Why didn't the person at 911 suggest it?????

    Sure, you might over-rev your engine and blow it up, but that's a hell of a lot better than a crash at 90mph! Besides, the company will give you a brand new car (maybe not even one of theirs!) if you promise not to tell anybody it happened.
  18. Neverfly Banned Banned

    I'm looking for a citation as I type this... There are so MANY freaking hits on the Toyota issue these days... Hard to sort them all out.

    But yes, people have done that.

    One woman in California shifted into neutral and when that didn't work, she even tried shifting into REVERSE.
    This was a big deal, because reverse is supposed to have a kill switch on the engine in case of accidentally knocking the shifter into reverse.

    Not only did the engine not cut- it continued to rev and push the car forward.

    Other people also stated they tried to switch off at the ignition. But in the panicky moment, they couldn't hit the button and turn the keys while trying to keep the car from hitting things.
    Which is understandable. First Priority is to Steer the Freakin' thing!
    Once they feel they are not in immediate danger of collision, they try to think fast. Most immediately stomp on the brakes. They will try that a few seconds. Bear in mind that the vehicle is Revving all through those seconds and plunging them forward quite a distance.
    Time to pay attention to Steering some more...
    Ok think again. Crap what's that? Dodge!
    Ok, so they try that. In many cases it doesn't work.
    Damnit, time to steer again... Watch out, honk...
    Ok. Think.
    Cut the engine. Hold STILL you damn keys...

    By Now, most owners of Toyota should be well aware that their first impulse should be to quickly cu the keys after ensuring no immediate collision.
    But it must be hard to think clearly in a moment of panic.

    A lot of people will want to NOT cut the engine if they NEED to steer as these cars have power steering that only works when the engine is on. Having that steering available Could mean the difference between a collision and a miss.
    The brakes are boosted by the master cylinder when the engine is running as well. Not much, but the vacuum pressure is an assist.
    Lastly, the parking brake is a cable system that is not strong enough to either stop or impede a car accelerating. The cable is prone to snap instead.
    Cutting the engine is not Always the Best Option. Steering is first priority and everything in between that is any attempt to stop the vehicle.
  19. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Just like many other things in life, Fraggle - if it were only that simple.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Several of these are not your ordinary cars that you and I (and pretty much every else!) are accustomed to. Some have very funky shift patterns and/or keyless ignition (you have to hold a button depressed for a certain length of time). Not only that, but the keyless systems work through that doggoned fly-by-wire computer - you know, the same device that's currently suspected of malfunctioning and causing those unexpected bursts of acceleration in the first place.

    The final chapter hasn't been written yet, so I'm withholding final judgment on both the company AND the drivers for the time being...
  20. TBodillia Registered Senior Member

    Shifting to neutral will always work. Those that claim it didn't either didn't really try or are lining up for a lawsuit. Shifting into reverse would be even better because it would automatically kill the car. It's a safety feature so you don't accidentally burn up your transmission.

    You have a funky shift pattern in your car because of the "Sudden Acceleration Syndrome" from Audis back in the 80s. The shift pattern and the shift lock are two safety features that came out of that "problem".

    The "smart keys", I don't know what they are talking about when they say "push and hold for 5 seconds". It says right in the handbook to push & release and not to hold.

    You have a cable connection between the gear shift and the transmission. The cable has to break or jam for it to keep from shifting.

    And the brakes are power assisted brakes, pumping them is pointless. The more pressure you apply to the pedal, the greater the pressure applied to the pads.

    Lesson #1 in stopping a car speeding out of control is shift to Neutral. Turning the ignition off kills the power steering & power brakes but it won't cause your steering wheel to lock up.
  21. sifreak21 Valued Senior Member

    america baught toyota is what went wrong.. japan china whoever had it before us should have kept it.. when we get our hands on it quality goes to shit
  22. sifreak21 Valued Senior Member

    shifting into neutral wont stop the rev but will stop the power going to teh drive train.. shifting into reverse if it didnt stall your tranny would be on the ground behind you.. all else fails turn the car off use ebrake to slow you down.. if you cant steer a car that doest have power stearing moving at 50mph u should have your lisence pulled.. power stearing is only really helpfull at low/no speed i use to drive a car and removed the power stearing its not hard to control
  23. Neverfly Banned Banned

    Shifting into Neutral/reverse:

    On Most of our older cars, the shift lever is connected to a cable that physically runs to a rocker arm just to the side of most valve bodies inside the automatic transmission.
    Some run to a shift solenoid at the top.
    Either way, shifting gears is More Physical than Electronic.

    So what you guys are saying Should Be True for most cars.

    However, some of the newer cars out have ALL electronic shift solenoids. Which means that shifting occurs when a switch tells the computer to send a signal to the control arm in the tranny and that causes it to move, rather than a physical cable connection.

    I Do Not Know If The Cars Involved Are Set Up This Way.

    However, considering how these new shiny toyotas are set up- I would not be surprised.

    If this is the case, the complaints of shifting not making a difference could be VALID and not lies. Shifting the lever would not shift the transmission if the computer fails to follow through.

    These New toyotas already employ full electronic accelerators. Realistically, you guys could say, "Why don't they just take their foot off the gas" just as easily.
    I notice that you are not saying that because you are aware that the accelerators are electronically controlled.

    Someone asked earlier: Answer-- I am not aware of any of these Toyotas having CVT transmissions. I doubt it, as I recall Saturn as being one of the only available Makes in the USA that trial ran CVT transmissions with little success (and a lot of burned up transmissions.) They discontinued them.
    But, CVT transmissions would be much more prone to failure in this type of situation.

    ETA: Folks, you're not being entirely logical, here.

    Don't you think all these investigators and such and especially Toyota would be crying foul if it was so easy to stop these cars?
    Don't you think of all these many many cases of Sudden Acceleration that SOME of these people would have the wits to try several things immediately (and while panicky, too) BEFORE calling freakin' 911?

    How many people have DIED because the vehicles go Out Of Control?
    Don't you think you would try shifting or braking or cutting the engine if you were in Mortal Danger and it was that easy?
    Basic instinct of self preservation demands that these people are Highly Likely to try.
    You're being a wee bit too dismissive here.
    It stands to reason that the several hundred people involved, the 75 or so that died AND all the investigators are not total fools.
    And it stands to reason that if it was so easy to halt these runaway cars, Toyota wouldn't be shitting bricks. It would be pointing out that halting the car is no real difficulty and claim driver responsiblity.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2010
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page