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Author Topic:   Electronic Throttle Controls--NASA Weighs In
jimh posted 02-09-2011 05:55 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
A committee of scientists and engineers at NASA has issued a report on the recent Toyota vehicle problems of unintended accelleration (UA) in certain Toyota models in which the control of the engine throttle was accomplished with electronic means instead of the more traditional mechanical linkages between accelerator pedal and engine throttle. The report is available at

The EXECUTIVE SUMMARY begins on page 13, and it makes for interesting reading, all four pages of it. The conclusion of the investigators is that the electronics were unlikely to cause unintended acceleration in the cases they studied.

I found this report to be interesting because I have been giving some consideration to moving my engine controls to an electronic system from their current mechanical system. Although I have a relatively new 2010 model year motor which has been run for just two seasons, my controls date from c.1992. The mechanical controls and cables are 19-years old, and I have been considering replacing them. Among the options are several different types of new mechanical controls and improved cables, or a completely new system of electronic controls. The great deal of publicity and media attention given in 2010 to the Toyota electronic control system and unintended acceleration caused me to wonder if electronic controls for my outboard engine would be a good choice. While the investigation by NASA's committee was not at all focused on outboard engine controls, the notion that the Toyota electronic controls were found to be unlikely to cause unintended acceleration has buoyed my interest (to use a nautical metaphor) in electronic controls in general.

I also suggest reading this column by Bob Pease: What-s-All-This-Unintended-Acceleration-Stuff-Anyhow-.aspx

I have been reading Bob Pease's comments on electronic design for many years, and I find he typically does not pull his punches.

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