Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has said he “still loves” his Prius car, despite what he suspects is a Toyota software problem behind sudden spikes in acceleration.
“It is just like all other gadgets we have…Everything today has a computer in it, so everything will fail,” Mr Wozniak said, during on-stage banter as part of a geek talk show at a computer security conference on Friday.
He said he had bought nine Prius hybrid cars, and had driven one from the Silicon Valley city of San Jose to San Francisco that day. He had conducted his own tests of Prius acceleration, taking his car to an open stretch of highway at dusk and then notching up the speed, using the cruise control mechanism.
At “some number over 72 miles per hour the car accelerated and kept picking up speed,” he said. “I wanted to see how high it would go.” Mr Wozniak add: “It wound up being unlimited so I hit the brake. The problem had to be in the software.
“We who work in computers know there are all kinds of little failures,” Mr Wozniak said. “I love Toyota…I think it is not unsafe.”
He advised treating cars like other computer-based mechanisms by restarting them to reboot their systems. His remarks came as U.S. lawmakers looking into problems with other Toyota models which allegedly experienced deadly spikes in speed asked the company for documents to back up its position that electronic defects were not to blame.
Representatives Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak, top Democrats on a House committee looking into the Japanese auto giant’s woes, made the request in a letter to the embattled company’s top U.S. executive.
“We do not understand the basis for Toyota’s repeated assertions that it is ‘confident’ there are no electronic defects contributing to incidents of sudden unintended acceleration,” they wrote.
The lawmakers’ letter to Toyota Motor Sales U.S. president James Lentz said the firm has yet to share documents conclusively documenting its position that such flaws are not behind speed surges blamed for some 50 U.S. deaths.
They also sought detailed quarterly reports on claims of sudden unintended acceleration and detailed information on the installation of brake override systems designed to slow vehicles and on so-called “black-box” data from cars and trucks involved in accidents.
The Japanese giant has recalled more than eight million cars worldwide to repair accelerator and brake defects.
Via The Straits Times Monday edition.