Plaintiffs Vie for a Look at Toyota's 'Crown Jewels'

In the sudden acceleration cases against Toyota, there are confidential documents and highly confidential documents. And then there is what the judge overseeing most of the cases called the company's "crown jewels"—the source software code behind the electronics of its vehicles, which almost no one has seen.

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What's being said

  • Thomas J. Kesolits PE

    From my experience in dealing with software for over 40 years, I don't believe access to the source code will show anything of value. In order to find a defect in the software, and most software has defects, the people evaluating it must have a detailed background in the programming language used and the requirments that drove the development of the software code. They will then have to analyze the, not the source code, but the application code. Subject matter experts will have to analyze the code line by line, instruction by instruction and I guarantee, they probably won't find anything. As an example, Microsoft releases operating systems and continually supplies patches to fix problems. They never find all of the problems no will people analyzing the source or application code. What must be done, is to look at how Toyota tested the fully delivered code, applied to the system, to see if any compromises occur. In the PC world, we know these as freezes, blue screens, or lock-ups. In applictions to control machinery, such as an automobile, these could manifest themselves as loss of control to an actuator, i.e. throttle, or over control to an actuator, appliction of power as a run-away. Even these kinds of tests don't show everything that can happen if a software instruction were to become corrupted by a high voltage pulse, RF radiation or something else.

    This commentary is written as stricty a netural postion. I do not own a Toyota product or stock in the company. I am looking for fairness and want to emphasize that in this world of cyber controls, unpredictable things can happen. The only thing to counter this is a full manual abort process initiated by a kill switch or something as mundane.

    Tom Kesolits


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