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NHTSA needs new software validation regulations

With the shortened development cycles, the hardware and basic software get poorly validated. The complete software validation is very sketchy and for the first 1-2 years the customers are driving on experimental calibration that get frequent updates every time a new problem surfaces. Should there be mandatory validation mileage and duty cycle requirements for vehicle callibrations.

Do you have specific examples of were this is a problem?

Currently Toyota is news for this. But it is a systemic problem.

My Mustang and Taurus before that had several calibration updates to Transmission, ABS and Engine.

I come in contact with some instances at my job but it is inappropriate to discuss.

I understand your point, but Toyota’s acceleration problem has not been determined to be a software problem.

I’m against creating regulations to try to control every problem. The feds are now going to control every detail of our lives including what kind of lightbulbs we use and how much salt we eat. We’re about to start paying increased taxes to support a beaurocracy (sp?) to “reduce health care costs”, which really means making us pay for dramatically increased copays and reduced “covered services”. And another fed agency, the IRS, will insure that we buy these eroded policies or they’ll garnish our wages.

The market will correct the problem without government intervention. The fed machine has grown enough. No more regs.

Microsoft issues continual updates, as do other software makers.
The code writers for the automakers are probably no better and no worse than the folks who work for other companies that issue their own software.

In some cases, performance issues arise that were not foreseen and were not observed during beta testing.
Mankind is imperfect by nature, and so, corrections need to be made occasionally.

Let’s just be thankful that manufacturers do issue updates, rather than ignoring issues that arise.

Checking for software updates is one of the very first stepts taken these days. You propose that a regulation be written in the new car warranty for the customer to be allowed to visit the mechanic of choice twice a year for a manufacture paid for update? not a terrible idea.

I propose 10yr 250k full manufacture pay warranty on all issues that make the “check engine” light come on (with exceptions for lack of maintiance or modifications or abuse).

These days you pay $80 for every update after your warranty is over. I am ok with that, but what scares me is that a lot of code is out there without enough validation. When a customer gets in trouble that is when the company reacts.
Why not validate the code take your time over it, put some miles on it then sell the car. Do not use us as validation fleet. We paid for the car and fuel and every thing else.

The error you are making is concluding that every software update was motivated by some error in the code. The motivation benind many updates it to use software to enable a failing or “not so good” piece of hardware to work better.

Should software carry any better or any worse a warranty than hardware? I say “yes” if it causes the check engine light to come on and the piece of hardware it is being compared too is not emissions related.

This is a wide=spread problem and it’s going to get worse…A friends new 2010 F150 with the new 6 speed automatic would not shift correctly under certain operating conditions…They assured him it was not mechanical and they would have a software update shortly. Two months later, the transmission was re-programed and the problem disappeared…

Today, the proper operation of a vehicle depends on it’s software…Twenty years from now, will anybody care or be able to do anything about the operating software in this truck? Will anybody other than Ford Dealers be able to work on it??? or will a computer/software problem be a hopeless situation, relegating the vehicle to salvage whether it belongs there or not…

Another issue, how long will it be before a “computer glitch” causes vehicle to lose control and be involved in an accident, the insurance company going after the auto manufacturer for selling a defective product…A litigation feeding frenzy…The policy of letting the first model-years buyers sort out the problems just isn’t going to work any more…That method will become WAY to expensive…“Automatic Stability Control” has the potential to bankrupt any automobile manufacturer unless they get legislation passed to protect themselves from lawsuits…

You are spot on. Toyota is saying that their problems are not because of software, but the symptoms described by the drivers indicate otherwise. When the throttle is depressed, and you get a brake input the system ignores it.
What we need are new guidelines so all the basic safety software is designed and written to a common specification. And nothing gets out until all the testing and validation mileage requirements are complete.
What FORD is telling Caddyman’s friend are, hey thanks for validating the junk for us now we will go fix it. So you end up being the unfortunate test driver for some immature product that should not have been released.
We can bury our head under the sand, or decide to get up and look at the problem in the eye and come up with a solution.
Bean counters will not be happy, but they have been screwing up cars for too long.

Can’t help but wonder if GM could do this with their OnStar system. They did update our OnStar programming via OnStar.

Caddyman made some excellent points, probably the most important unintentionally. Legislation can protect manufacturers from the liability in cases of unintended consequences, even serious ones. Once legislation is passed, the defense of “the product meets all federal safety regulations” becomes legally viable. Manufacturers simply have to present the evidence that it was tested per the fed spec and met all requirements.

My feeling is still that the marketplace works better than additional regulation.

Besides, knowing how far behind the feds are in in legislation to protect people in most areas of computer technology, such as internet security, cyberbullying, and a list of other problems, I doubt that it would even be posiible for them to institute any meaningful regulations. By the time the ink was dry technological advances would have made the regulations obsolete.

Yes, they could do it if the ROM used in their systems has rewrite capabilities. The basic system would has to allow for programming the EEPROM. The elctronics would also have to be modified to provide the higher voltages required to rewrite EEPROM. This capability may already exist, but I’m not sure that I want someone changing the firmware on my car at their convenience instead of mine. This activity should take place when the car is sitting still, not going 70 MPH. If you have ever reflashed the EEPROM on your PC, you will recall that hey tell you to back it up before you flash the EEPROM in case something goes wrong.