U.S. auto safety regulators are turning to NASA scientists for help in analyzing Toyota Motor Corp electronic throttles to see if they are behind unintended acceleration, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said on Tuesday.
In addition to the work by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, LaHood also said a experts from the National Academy of Sciences will lead a separate study of unintended acceleration across the auto industry, a broader issue raised by congressional lawmakers at recent hearings on Toyota, Reuters informed.
The government also recruited the National Research Council, part of the congressionally chartered National Academy of Sciences, to investigate unintended acceleration and electronics in vehicles from all automakers, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in an interview. The studies will cost a total of $3 million, he said.
Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, has recalled more than 8 million cars and trucks worldwide for defects that may trigger sudden bursts of speed. The Japanese automaker has focused on modifying accelerator pedals and installing new floor mats. Toyota has said there is no evidence that electronic controls are at fault, a conclusion questioned by consumer advocates and lawmakers, Business Week reported.
According to The Associated Press, the academy study, expected to take 15 months, will review acceleration problems and recommend how the government can ensure the safety of vehicle electronic control systems.
"We believe their outside expertise, fresh eyes and fresh research perhaps can tell us if electronics have played a role in these accelerations," LaHood said.