According to a recent report, U.S. regulators are investigating a potential link between cosmic rays and Toyota's sudden acceleration problem.
While details are limited, an anonymous tipster told National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officials that Toyota's microprocessors, memory chips and software could be susceptible to interference caused by radiation from cosmic rays. Despite sounding crazy, the tipster's complaint is creditable considering that airplanes and satellites are affected by single event upsets (SEUs).
For years, scientists have known cosmic rays can cause computer and electronic errors, but as the tipster indicated, "the automotive industry has yet to truly anticipate SEUs." This is an interesting possibility, as today's small circuits could be thwarted by cosmic radiation.
When the Detroit Free Press asked Toyota for comment, the company responded by saying their systems are designed for "absolute reliability" and "the durability, size, susceptibility and specifications of the automotive electronics make them robust against this type of interference."
Special photo credit to Freep.com. See source link below for full illustration.