On Thursday October 24, 2013, an Oklahoma court ruled against Toyota in a case of unintended acceleration that lead to the death of one the occupants. Central to the trial was the Engine Control Module's (ECM) firmware.
Barr's ultimate conclusions were that:
- Toyota’s electronic throttle control system (ETCS) source code is of unreasonable quality.
- Toyota’s source code is defective and contains bugs, including bugs that can cause unintended acceleration (UA).
- Code-quality metrics predict presence of additional bugs.
- Toyota’s fail safes are defective and inadequate (referring to them as a “house of cards” safety architecture).
- Misbehaviors of Toyota’s ETCS are a cause of UA.
I am a developer by trade and all of these software automation in cars scare me. The problem is the source code to these critical systems are not open to inspection and a mechanic will have really hard time to figure out what's happening on your car during maintenance and inspection. The car industry has had over 100 years experience on mechanical control design - electronic control, not so much.