A lot has happened over the past few months with Toyota, and most of it not good. As this essentially will have a significant effect on many people, we have decided to have a look and float some thoughts.
No matter how you look at it, it appears some defective technology is to blame for Toyota’s problems. The high tech fly by wire approach that seems to work fine in aircraft, seems to have a bit of a problem with things that stay on the ground. So we have decided to put on our engineering hat and look at some of the potential things that can cause problems.
First off our gut feeling is they are looking in the wrong place. The news has reported that things work just fine and there is no reason for the cars to accelerate out of control. So using that as a truthful situation, we must look at what is left as possibilities.
The first place we would look is aircraft as that seems to be the parent fly by wire concept that started it all. When you get on an aircraft, they are very sure to tell you to turn off all your electronic devices and keep them off for the flight. The reason they say is they may interfere with the aircraft’s systems. So armed with the knowledge that some electronics are very vulnerable to stray electronic signals or electrical fields otherwise known as noise, you start at least to think about how much noise we drive through every single day.
For starters there are mobile phones and cell towers along the roads. As technology improves entire countries will be an Internet hot spot with high output routers placed along the roads. Then there is the basic high voltage electrical fields that are bleeding raw electricity into the air. Then there are traffic monitoring devices like radars being pointed directly at the cars. If we could see all of this with our eyes, it would look like a laser light show with hundreds of emitters every place you looked.
Police in some places use electrical pulses to disable a car’s electronics if they are in a chase situation causing the car to stall and roll to a stop. Those pulses are raw electrical discharges meant to fry the car’s computer. We talk about electromagnetic pulses that will do the same to electronics. We talk about sunspots and how much damage they can do to satellites in space. This all adds up to a bunch of dots that says the problem is not the car’s computer, but the places cars go.
So lets assume as an example some computer signal gets into the car’s computer and the car responds by acceleration to top speed. We need not say much more on this as it certainly is a possibility and would most certainly make a good episode for the X-Files. Because the signals are momentary there is no evidence that they even happened, and that is a good reason why they are having a hard time finding the culprit.