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Old 28th March 2010, 07:18   #1
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Talking Cosmic rays behind Toyota woes

I just read this article in today's Sunday Times newspaper.
I think it should be in the jokes thread, but since it is published in a respected newspaper, I am starting the thread here.

Mods please do the needful if its inappropriate.

Quote:
Cosmic rays behind Toyota trouble?
Radiation From Space Might Have Interfered With Car Electronics


It may sound far-fetched and it may not really lessen Toyota’s woes, but US regulators are studying whether the problems the company has been having with faulty gas pedals could be blamed on cosmic rays from space.
Toyota’s sticky gas pedals caused sudden and unintended acceleration in several of the automaker’s top-selling Toyota and Lexus-brand cars, which led to a massive recall of more than 9 million vehicles worldwide.
While ongoing inquiries attempt to locate the source of the problem and figure out a fix, investigators are also examining a far-out culprit: cosmic ray radiation from deep in the cosmos, which has been known to plague vulnerable data and memory chips in electronics.
Cosmic rays could be at least partially to blame for Toyota’s mechanical defects, LiveScience said. And the problem could get worse in the future, as the increasing use of tiny computer chips—replacing mechanical parts—makes cars more and more vulnerable to space radiation.
Federal regulators were prompted to look into the possible role that cosmic rays played in Toyota’s product recall fiasco after an anonymous tipster suggested the design of Toyota’s microprocessors, software and memory chips could make them more vulnerable to interference from radiation compared with other automakers. This is because Toyota has led the auto industry in its widespread inclusion of electronic controls in the manufacture of their various car models.
Cosmic rays are high-energy protons that originate in shock waves from the remnants of supernovas. They constantly rain down on Earth. And while the highenergy “primary” rays collide with atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and rarely make it through to the ground, “secondary” particles ejected from these collisions do reach ground level.
“These secondary particles bathe the Earth in energetic showers that can disrupt electronics,” said Robert Rauk, a consultant at Creative Power Resources, a US-based electrical and mechanical engineering consulting company.
As electronic devices are made to perform more and more functions on smaller circuit chips, the systems become more sensitive and vulnerable to corruption, and thus more prone to interference from radiation, said Ewart Blackmore, a senior researcher at TRIUMF, a cyclotron facility in Vancouver, Canada, that works with companies to test and analyze the effects of radiation on products.
“Radiation is certainly a potential cause of Toyota’s problems,” Blackmore told LiveScience. “What’s not known is what direction Toyota and other automakers are taking in terms of finding and correcting these issues.” AGENCIES
Wrong Turn
US federal regulators are investigating whether radiation from outer space, which has long affected airplanes and spacecraft, was behind the faulty gas pedals in Toyota’s electronics-laden cars
Toyota’s sticky gas pedals caused sudden and unintended acceleration in several of the automaker’s top-selling cars, which led to a massive recall of more than 9 million vehicles across the world
Scientists say the problem of cosmic ray interference could get worse in the future, as the increasing use of tiny computer chips makes cars more and more vulnerable to space radiation
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Last edited by Rehaan : 1st April 2010 at 12:05. Reason: Formatting
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Old 28th March 2010, 08:12   #2
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Well, these kind of report shows how much Toyota values their customers. If they are going to come out with excuses as lame as this, I am sure they would blame many more of these unexplainable technical problems on the Cosmic rays, Cosmic serpents, etc.

I for the first time, lost my faith in Toyota.
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Old 28th March 2010, 08:17   #3
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1) A thread already exists :
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/intern...models-us.html

2) In the above thread, already the mention about this cosmic ray theory has been mentioned.
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Old 28th March 2010, 08:33   #4
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This is outright funny. Why cars from other manufacturers did not get affected if the problem was due to cosmic rays
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Old 28th March 2010, 10:28   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nkrishnap View Post
This is outright funny. Why cars from other manufacturers did not get affected if the problem was due to cosmic rays
You bet it is funny.

I will take this cosmic ray bit with a pinch of salt. Let me tell you why. How come almost no Toyota car in Asia/Pacfic (even China had a 'proactive' recall, no runaways reported there) are not displaying symptoms of run away acceleration etc? Are these 'scientists' alluding to some theory that cosmic ray bombardment only occurs in northern latitudes?

Cheers!
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Old 28th March 2010, 10:37   #6
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german cars use much more electronics than the toyotas(prius maybe an exception), how come they are immune?
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Old 28th March 2010, 10:56   #7
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Of course, cosmic ray bombardment, gamma ray bombardment, alien invasions, monster invasions all happen only in the US. Don't you watch the movies?
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Old 28th March 2010, 11:31   #8
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maybe the concept of the next Hollywood movie about Terrorist attack on America ctrl+ C , ctrl+ V by some R&D fellas at Toyota. ROFL.
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Old 28th March 2010, 11:35   #9
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9 Million Vehicles Recalled !! That is one outrageous number !

Cosmic Rays or not - I am not a science person BUT should not other companies also recall then ?
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Old 28th March 2010, 11:48   #10
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With cosmic ray effect, they might need divine intervention to sort out the issue.
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Old 28th March 2010, 11:58   #11
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Hmm interesting , wonder what else can be impacted due to these cosmic rays. Hollywood movies have shown us the effect of ghosts on lights and tv screens. Always used to wonder why no such impact on cars, perhaps human ghosts are not that powerful and need cosmic help.
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Old 28th March 2010, 18:34   #12
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Haha. Thats the most ridiculous excuse i have come across. What next Toyota? Harry Potter under an invisibility cloak stepping on your gas pedal?

Incidentally, Toyota India too seems to have picked up this trait from their western counterparts. Going a lil OT but recently, when my Corolla didn't start with the Toyota master key (after the key had been replaced by toyota due to wear and tear), i was told that the problem HAD DEVELOPED due the pressing of accelerator and break pedal which changed the coding in ECM.

I mean common guys, atleast work up some better excuse.
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Old 28th March 2010, 20:39   #13
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Cosmic Rays? Then even Tata could claim now Fire's are due to Cosmic Rays :-)
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Old 28th March 2010, 21:30   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TeddyBear View Post
Cosmic Rays? Then even Tata could claim now Fire's are due to Cosmic Rays :-)
If thats the case with Toyota then Tata cars must have been Cosmic rays attack ever since. Next time your car breaks down, take an appointment with some Tantrik instead of going to workshop.

I think this thread should be merged with Jokes thread.
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Old 28th March 2010, 22:08   #15
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I don't know whether cosmic rays have had any effect on the toyota cars. But the physical phenomenon is not at all funny and it happens in reality. It impacts electronic circuits for sure.

The cosmic rays (or radiation) deposit un-wanted/extra charges at circuit transistor nodes. If the charge deposition is such that it can trigger a switching in the circuit (which is possible), then the whole functionality is changed. This error may seem funny or inexplicable as previously impact of radiation on electronic circuits were not researched deeply. But now-a-days there are circuit design techniques which are error-tolerant or have redundancy to counter these.

I would not be surprised at all if the radiation causes an IC failure. And as the car ECU is nothing but an IC, it may also get impacted. Now suppliers of the IC to toyota would be the only person who could tell whether their circuits are radiation error tolerant or not.

Last edited by cuboid : 28th March 2010 at 22:09. Reason: making paragraphs
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