Monday, December 29, 2014

Toyota Camry--scientific evidence of tin whiskers in accelerator pedal position sensor

Down the road from NASA is CALCE at the University of Maryland, where there are world-class, extensive, advanced electronics reliability laboratories funded by a huge consortium of the world's giant electronics companies. Testing goes on there day and night. Toyota is notably not a member of the consortium.

Here is a paper explaining the findings of tin whiskers by several of CALCE's top people.

CALCE paper on tin whiskers findings in Toyota Camry

Summary of findings (from abstract): The use of a tin finish in the APPS is a cause for concern. Tin finishes are known to produce metal whiskers that are conductive and capable of creating unintended current leakage paths. In the analysis, a significant number of tin whiskers were found.

That's putting it politely.

Anyway, this means, and I am repeating--but perhaps the DOJ remains unable to understand--that this is a dangerous safety defect that was known to Toyota and not admitted to by Toyota. You cannot design a safety-critical system with such unpredicable components and still sell the product and claim it is safe. And Dr. David Gilbert and others have proved that short circuits are not always detected by Toyota's failsafe, so that is no defense.