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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