By: Larry Drexel
Collaborating with NASA engineers specializing in computer controlled electronic systems, electromagnetic interference, and software integrity, NHTSA launched a study to address concerns by consumer advocates, personal injury attorneys, and safety groups in Californiathe location of at least two of the accidentsand elsewhere that the vehicles electronics systems were the source of the problem.
Over the last ten months, NASA engineers evaluated the vehicles electronic circuitry, software codes, and response to electromagnetic radiation, while NHTSA engineers investigated if unintended acceleration could be attributed to mechanical flaws other than sticking accelerator pedals and gas pedals prone to becoming caught in floor mats, the two causes of unintended acceleration initially sited by NHTSA and Toyota. At the end of the study, NHTSA and NASA concluded that there were no electronic defects in the vehicles capable of producing the large throttle openings required to cause unintended acceleration.
Massive recalls not only prompted Toyota to correct the mechanical design flaws responsible for unintended acceleration but also to implement additional safety measures, such as installing brake override systems on new vehicles to automatically cut the throttle when the brake and gas pedals are applied at the same time. The company also assigned a chief quality officer to North America and several engineering teams to address safety issues presented by consumers, reported The Associated Press.
Despite dips in its quarterly profit, Toyota projected higher earnings and vehicle sales for the year, suggesting the companys confidence in restoring its reputation for safety and reliability among American consumersa shift marked by the U.S. Secretary of Transportations recent recommendation to his daughter to purchase a Toyota.