• Mar 30, 2010
Who do you call when automobiles are rocketing (intentional pun) out of control? As it turns out, the answer is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, aka NASA.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has enlisted the help of NASA to solve the unintended acceleration conundrum that's led to the recall of nearly 10 million Toyota vehicles. A statement by the DoT says it is calling on NASA's expertise in "electronics, hardware, software, hazard analysis and complex problem solving" to help solve a problem for which many credentialed experts have no acceptable answer. In short, NASA will be looking for any defects that could lead to an investigation, and its study should be completed by late summer.

The National Academy of Sciences will also conduct a second, more broad investigation that will tackle unwanted acceleration and electronic vehicle controls. The study will last up to 15 months, and the total bill for the two studies will cost American tax payers a relatively reasonable (if there are results) $3 million dollars.

The announcement of the two independent federal investigations comes one month after Congress demanded answers from Toyota and the DoT that would put Americans at ease. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood apparently senses the urgency to get this daunting problem resolved, adding "for the safety of the American driving public, we must do everything possible to understand what is happening." So to infinity and beyond we go.

[Source: The Los Angeles Times, Business Week | Image: Bill Ingalls/AFP/Getty]


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  • 44 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      WTF? So NASA and has to diagnose Toyota's problems? Can we send Toyota the bill for the consultative work?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sorry, this reply was meant for the tread below. Maybe NASA can provide autoblog with a delete comment feature.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Another great use of the taxpayer's dollars!
        • 4 Years Ago
        It was just joke!
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Report: NASA will study sudden unintended acceleration problem.."

        To study Toyota's unintended "velocities"...(to make NASA rockets go faster).

        ;)
        • 4 Years Ago
        my thoughts exactly! why are we paying for Toyota's problems!!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Its not toyotas fault. Im going to laugh when the verdict finally comes in, user error.
        • 4 Years Ago
        skablaw,

        I'm sorry if I peed in your Cheerios. You are making a fundamental mistake: assuming that I am criticizing those good people who work at NASA instead of the bureaucracy that strangles it. Your second mistake is resorting to name calling. Saying that people who disagree with you are morons just because they disagree with you is not an argument, it’s name calling. You seem to have some intelligence. You can do better than that.

        You have suggestions for me? Well here is a suggestion for you, read this:
        http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/getting-space-exploration-right

        Maybe you will have a better understanding of what the problem is instead of getting offended.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed, there is no problem, this is the Audi debacle all over again. Show me a story that hasn't been debunked
      • 4 Years Ago
      And yet another great use of my tax dollars....
      • 4 Years Ago
      Toyota, so advanced it`s rocket science!

      God what a great slogan they can use now?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why should they? Their funding was cut on this years budget.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Diversifying so that they can get more funding for *other* reasons. If more people see value in NASA for other things other than space exploration, it would earn them points and hopefully merit them more budget money and less cuts.
      • 4 Years Ago
      NASA has better things to do than this then again joining the witch hunt against Toyota will get more $$ from obama.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Because you know, those rocket scientists never actually resolved the loose foam issue; the solution is to use a camera to examine the body of the shuttle in space, for damage...
        • 4 Years Ago
        skablaw... are you this pleasant in person, or is this just something you do for the internet?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Epyx,
        I'm a big believer in space exploration but if you are honest about NASA's record you will admit that their glory days were long ago in the early days of the manned space program. You also admit that this organization not only couldn't solve the loose foam issue, they also never figured out that an O ring might not seal a rocket booster properly from a fuel leak if the temp drops below freezing and the ring material contracts.

        NASA is not the organization it used to be. It's now a political and bureaucratic organism like so many other government bureaucracies. I do hope this is done by the same group that does the unmanned probes, because I agree with you these guys seem to have their act together.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah! Skablaw! Thank you.
        • 4 Years Ago
        This is also the organization that has sent manned missions to the Moon. Unmanned NASA probes have landed on Mars, and Saturn's moon Titan. Unmanned NASA probes have also performed fly-bys of all of the planets, except Pluto (which is no longer classified as a planet). Designed and build the first reusable space craft. Provides the means to get satellites into space for your TV, Internet and GPS and built the Hubble Telescope allowing for unprecedented advancement and understanding of the universe.

        However you by comparison are just a cynical internet jockey that has no idea what you are talking about.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Frank,

        You are an absolute moron and clearly have no respect for or understanding of aerospace engineering. NASA's "glory days" are each and every day that its doors are open. The complexities and cost in money and resources are so far beyond anything you can comprehend that the fact mankind has even made it into orbit, let alone land on the Moon, populate a space station or repair satelites and celestial telescopes in free space is nothing short of a miracle of human ingenuity.

        The fact of the matter is that there is no "solution" to the foam that covers the ET. The foam IS the solution, and is there because the liquid fuel stored in the tank is so frigid that condensation would form all over it and subsequently shower the Orbiter with huge chunks of ice during liftoff were it not in place. If you think a dinky piece of insulating foam is a problem, I'd love to see how well the TPS would survive being bombarded with icicles.

        NASA is an organization blessed with some of the most gifted minds from every corner of the scientific world. So intelligent are they, that they realized perpetuating a winged, reusable launch vehicle is a ridiculously inefficient system plagued with failure points and unimaginable maintenance costs. The various administrations occupying the White House during STS development, and the military - obsessed with the desire to use the craft for its purposes, put design requirements in place that no other group in the world could ever have overcome, and it has worked with a success rate beyond anyone's imagination.

        I'd suggest you go view the MIT lecture series on aircraft systems engineering available through iTunes university and get at least a rudimentary education on what this organization has done before you start making jackass comments about their accomplishments. Believe me, you don't have the brains to engineer so much as the gloves on the space suit, let alone a better thermal protection system, so shut your mouth and give a little respect to these people who have pushed the limits of what human beings are capable of achieving further than perhaps the entire collective scientific community in the preceding millennium.

        Oh, and to the topic of the post - I'm glad to see that the Obama administration has finally gotten NASA's priorities straight. Resuming manned missions to the Moon? Yeah, that's a stupid waste of resources... let's spend our money finding out that Toyota drivers have no business behind the wheel instead. What a joke. This president and his team make me sick.
        • 4 Years Ago
        There's still a probe (New Horizons) headed to Pluto though. Maybe they could redirect it to planet Toyota and scan the mothership instead!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Isn't NASA also the group that crashed a probe into the surface of Mars due to a foot/meter conversion problem?
      • 4 Years Ago
      April 1 is still a couple days away, guys.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is the most ridiculous idea I have heard from the government in, well, about a week. Yes, NASA is bursting at the seams with egghead rocket scientists. So what? How many automotive engineering experts do they have? How many automotive industry experts do they have? Do I have to use two hands, or can I get away with just the one?

      Anyway, sure, let's hand this over to NASA, too. Maybe they can spare James Hansen to have a peek at the problem. He's certainly a trustworthy and uncontroversial fellow...

      • 4 Years Ago
      So Toyota's problems are out of the world.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'll just go ahead and sidestep all the political sabre rattling and say something off topic. The RV in that picture is friggin awesome. Is it an Airstream?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yea I think thats an airstream. I think during the Apollo missions they quarantined the astronauts for a while after they arrived back on earth, thinking they might be contaminated or something.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This being the same agency that sent a multi-million dollar space shuttle crashing into Mars because it forgot to convert the units...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Dude also a joke. Got nothing against NASA.
        • 4 Years Ago
        This is also the organization that has sent manned missions to the Moon. Unmanned NASA probes have landed on Mars, and Saturn's moon Titan. Unmanned NASA probes have also performed fly-bys of all of the planets, except Pluto (which is no longer classified as a planet). Designed and build the first reusable space craft. Provides the means to get satellites into space for your TV, Internet and GPS and built the Hubble Telescope allowing for unprecedented advancement and understanding of the universe.

        However you by comparison are just a cynical internet jockey that has no idea what you are talking about.

        Sorry - needed to be said again!
      • 4 Years Ago
      So glad we have the National Aeronautic and Space Administration to do the National Transportation Safety Board should be doing. I guess since they're no longer in the space business, they need some funding.

      Thanks ObaMao! I'm ecstatic that the Dear Leader wants to take care of his loyal subjects in this fashion.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Show me some evidence Obama had anything to do with this... or are you just an ignorant person making stuff up?
        • 4 Years Ago
        heh... I love you "Obama is a commie!" people. I've been reading your goofy posts for so long that now I just break into terrible fits of giggles any time one of you spouts some of your nonsense.

        Please keep it up, you fill my entertainment need for the day to the point that I don't even need to watch the circus errr... fox news.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Wait...I am confused. You on one hand are complaining about too much Government (Socialism) and then on the other you are complaining that NASA's (a government run organization) budget was cut.

        So which is it?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @John - I am also amused at the way people like you genuflect at everything the man does including flushing the future of our health care into the toilet. It's bad enough they can't manage social security, or Amtrack, or the USPS either. Now these clowns in Washington (with Obama being the ring leader) are wasting even more resources cross investigating in areas of government not even belonging to their own organizations. Meanwhile they are cutting the budgets to do sound science and doing this kind of nonsense.

        OK, now you can tune back to MSNBC....
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm confused... Are you implying that the problems with Social Security, Amtrak and the USPS are the current administrations fault? And if so.. waaaaahhhhhhhhh?

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