Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Are cosmic rays really causing Toyota's woes?

It is interesting that as technology enables microprocessors to become smaller and smaller, it becomes more difficult to protect them from nature.

It may sound far-fetched, but federal regulators are studying whether sudden acceleration in Toyotas is linked to cosmic rays.

Radiation from space long has affected airplanes and spacecraft, and is known for triggering errors in computer systems, but has received scant attention in the auto industry.

The phenomenon can trigger software crashes that come and go without a trace. Unlike interference from radio waves, there's no way to physically block particles; such errors typically have to be prevented by a combination of software and hardware design.

And an anonymous tipster told NHTSA last month that "the automotive industry has yet to truly anticipate SEUs."
Reed Free Press article here.

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