The latest cases of uncontrolled acceleration in the Toyota Prius point to software glitches that the car industry needs to address with more rigorous testing, according to a company that specializes in software integrity.
The most recent high-profile incident happened on Monday when James Sikes called 911 around 1:30 p.m., saying the accelerator in his Prius was stuck and he couldn't slow down, according to a CBS News report.
At one point, the car hit a speed of 90 mph. A California Highway Patrol officer inserted his car in front of the Prius and applied the brakes to try to get the Prius to stop. It stopped after about 20 minutes.
"I pushed the gas pedal to pass a car and it did something kind of funny...it jumped and it just stuck there," Sikes said at a news conference, according to the CBS News report. (See video below.) He said he tried the brakes but this didn't stop the car.
Dave Peterson, chief marketing officer at Coverity, said: "There are two things that are clear about the latest Prius incident. One, nobody knows where the problems are inside of these types of automobiles. Two, the days of blaming floor mats are coming to an end." Coverity provides software analysis to help electronics companies build high-integrity software. Its customers have included France Telecom, Siemens, Mitsubishi Electric, Research In Motion, and Broadcom.
Peterson asserts--as have other experts--that "drivers should not be software beta testers for automobiles." Sophisticated drive-by-wire cars like the Prius demand more exacting analysis, as is practiced in the airplane industry. "It is time to see the auto industry learn from the avionics sector and apply rigorous integrity testing for all software components and all combinations of integrations between these components," he said.
In a statement, Toyota said it sent a technical specialist to San Diego to investigate the Monday incident. Generally, the automaker has maintained that mechanical flaws, not electronics, are to blame in cases of unintended acceleration, though the company does investigate select incidents when drivers claim electronic failures. … Read more