It appears time to bring in the rocket scientists. Well, not quite, but almost.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that the National Academy of Sciences and NASA engineers will conduct two separate investigations into the unintended vehicle acceleration issues that have plagued Toyota.
The National Academy of Sciences will examine the broad subject of unintended acceleration and electronic vehicle controls across the industry while NASA engineers will look specifically at unintended vehicle acceleration in Toyotas. The NASA engineers will be those with expertise in computer controlled electronic systems, software integrity and electromagnetic interference.
The National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council study will cover a period of 15 months and will cover all manufacturers.
The tab for both studies, which will be peer reviewed by scientific experts, is expected to be close to $3 million. Included in this cost is the purchase of cars that have allegedly experienced unintended acceleration.
Secretary LaHood has also asked the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General to make an assessment of whether or not NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation adequately reviewed complaints about unintended acceleration from 2002 to present. They will also examine and determine if NHTSA's Office of Defect Investigation(ODI) had enough staffing and technical expertise to deal with the issues and determine if there was enough data to identify any specific defects that could have caused unintended acceleration.