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0: Cruise Control Home
2:What is Cruise Control?
3: Principles
4: Functional aspects
5: What is Sudden Acceleration?
6: Incidence & Examples
7: Internal 
failure mechanisms
8: Discussion
of  Failure Mechanisms
9: Links & References
9.5: SAI
by manufacturer

Dr Antony Anderson 
9 - Sudden Acceleration Links and References

9.2 General Background Material Related to Cruise Control & Electronic Throttles

9.1. How a cruise control system works
9.2. General background
(Incl papers and patents)
9.3. Miscellaneous material on sudden acceleration
9.4. NHTSA
(Complaints Database, Reports, Recalls)
9.5. References to particular manufacturers: 
Audi - BMW - Buick - Chrysler - Daewoo -  Ford - General Motors - Honda - Jaguar - Land Rover - Mercedes -  Mitsubishi - Nissan - Renault -  Toyota - Toyota/Lexus -  Volvo
9.6. Alternatives to cruise control
(Speed Sensitive Accelerator)

The Myth of sudden acceleration

©Calce 2003 

used with permission

In 1965, in hearings before the Senate Commerce Committee, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler admitted that they had known about a number of serious safety defects in their products in the past. They typically handled these problems by telling their dealers to repair the defects when the vehicles were brought in for service, but rarely if ever reported the defects directly to the car owners. Thus, if owners did not bring their cars back to their dealers, these defects would not be repaired and could lead to serious accidents.

Shocked by this revelation, Congress wrote the defect notification provisions into the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966. Manufacturers also committed to voluntarily recall defective vehicles for repair at no cost to their owners. Congress also required that all communications from the manufacturers to their dealers had to be sent to the government so that the manufacturers could not so easily conduct secret recall campaigns through their dealer's vehicle. Some years later, Fiat broke the commitment to repair safety-related defects, and Congress wrote specific recall requirements into the Act.

 This book was written to expose the fact that some auto companies, including the Ford Motor Company, continues to hide critical safety related defects in its automobiles from their owners and from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency responsible for carrying out the safety act. The subject of this book involves defects that can cause motor vehicles to suddenly accelerate, often from a standstill, when the driver is not touching the accelerator pedal. Ford has not only hidden the defect, it has withheld critical information from the government, and from courts hearing product liability lawsuits brought by people severely injured in such cases, or by survivors of those killed.  Published by CALCE (University of Maryland) Aug 2003
Contact at CALCE

Can be ordered by credit card from The Center for Auto Safety at:

  • US Patent 3599052 Aug 10 1971 Automoble Speed Control (Carp, Howard, Slavin and Leoncio) Assignee: Bendix Corporation
  • US patent  3,937,980 February 10, 1976  Printed Wiring Circuit Guard Ring 
  • US Patent 4,394,739 July 19 1983 Automatic speed control system for an automotive vehicle (Suzuki et al) Assignee: Nissan Motor Company  Abstract:  Automatic speed control system is provided which has circuitry responsive to the turning off of the system's restart switch. This circuitry activates the control upon detection of a control signal, generated as a function of the difference between the actual vehicle speed and the set speed, when the restart switch switches off. In the system according to the present invention, the vehicle is effectively prevented from unexpected acceleration caused by the misoperation of the restart switch or damage thereof. 
  • US Patent 4,434,469 February 28th 1984 Automatic Speed Control for an automotive vehicle (Suzuki, et al.) Assignee: Nissan Motor Company,  Abstract: An automatic speed control system for an automotive vehicle for controlling the vehicle driving speed at a pre-set constant speed comprising a setting device for pre-setting as desired vehicle speed , a control for controlling the throttle valve position or the carburetor in order to keep the vehicle speed at the pre-set value, and an accelerator switch for resetting the pre-set value and renewing the pre-set value in the control system. A safety means is provided in the control system and is cooperative with a brake switch which is turned on while the brake is applied. The safety means becomes operative in response to turning on of the brake switch while the accelerator switch is in an ON condition.
  • US patent  4,472,777 September 18, 1984 Engine Control Apparatus for Vehicle Speed (Youngblood, Ralph A. ) Assignee: Ford Motor Company
  • US Patent 4549266  October 22 1985 Vehicle Speed Control (Schneider, Jack H.; Huber, Gary D.) Assignee Ford Motor CompanyAbstract:  An automotive speed control system uses logic activated switches on both sides of solenoids controlling vent and vacuum valves. A vacuum solenoid is activated upon the simultaneous occurrence of an activation of a vent valve solenoid, an activation of the speed control system, and a determination that solenoid current is below a desired magnitude.
  • US Patent 5,216,609 August 9 1991 Vehicle speed control system with multiplex switch decoding.  (Oo; Kah S. ) Asignee: Ford Motor Company.  Abstract :  A speed control system having an operator actuable switch assembly providing a single multiplexed output. The switch output is scaled with respect to the switch reference voltage to concel any effect of noise or battery voltage variation. Decoding of the scaled output provides the speed control system with the appropriate operator actuable command after all switches of the switch assembly are concurrently detected in a neutral position.
  • Further searching on automobile speed control patents can be carried out free of charge at the US Patent and Trademark Office: http://patft.uspto.gov/
  • Anderson, A. F. Reliability in Electromagnetic Systems: The role of electrical contact resistance in maintaining automobile speed control system integrity  IET Colloquium on Reliability in Electromagnetic Systems, Paris, May 24-24 May 2007.  Abstract: Electromagnetic systems depend upon the integrity of electrical connections. An intermittent speed sensor connection is shown to generate a false speed signal that may allow an automobile speed control system to engage at low speed and cause a sudden acceleration. Preventive measures are discussed. The current approach to controlling uncommanded sudden accelerations seems to rely upon the driver braking against full engine power to bring the vehicle to a halt. More effective and safer control would be achieved by cutting off the fuel supply the moment that an uncommanded wide open throttle condition was detected, thereby preventing the sudden acceleration.  PDF Copies obtainable from the author by e-mail at: <antony.anderson@onyxnet.co.uk>  IET webcast:  http://tv.theiet.org/technology/electronics/1051.cfm
"Electronic sub-assemblies (ESAs) are being increasingly used where they could affect vehicle safety risks, including every aspect of drivetrain control, and many aspects of body control, including lighting, displays, indicators and mirrors. Anything that could affect the direct control of a vehicle, or could confuse other road users, is of concern. Indeed, there are many current developments that are safety-related, such as automatic parking, intelligent cruise control, automatic lane following, vision-aids, and vehicle-to-vehicle telemetry (enables vehicles to start braking when traffic ahead slows, even when hidden around bends or in fog) that would not be possible without advanced electronics and its software. The problem is that all ESAs can suffer from errors, malfunctions and even permanent damage due to electromagnetic interference (EMI). Further, the EM environment is continually worsening due to the increasing use of electronic technologies in all areas of society, especially switch-mode power conversion and wireless communications. Another problem is that all ESAs rely on semiconductors, either as discrete or integrated circuits (ICs), and the continuing shrinkage in their internal silicon features and reductions in operating voltages are making them more susceptible to EMI. So, for several reasons, the importance of EMI to the safety of vehicular transport is increasing. Standards in all industry sectors, including the automotive industry, generally deal with EMI-related safety issues very poorly, if they even cover it at all. The few that attempt to address these issues simply require the application of traditional EMC immunity tests that can never be sufficient for ensuring tolerable safety risks over the entire lifecycle, for reasons which we’ll described later. Over the last ten years or so, there have been developments in applying risk management techniques to EMC to correctly address EMI-related safety issues. Specifically, there is IEC TS 61000-1-2 (which is effectively the missing EMC Annex of the basic functional safety standard IEC 61508, and the IET’s new guide on “EMC for Functional Safety”. Excellent paper that lays the groundwork for a functional safety based approach to automobile electronic design manufacture and testing. For further useful EMC articles and links see http://www.cherryclough.com/Pages/Links.htm

  • Gunnerhed, M. : Risk Assessment of Cruise Control (Audi) FOA Report $ 30010 -3. 3 May 1988 ISSN 0281-9937 Swedish Defence Research Establishment, Department of Information Technology. Abstract: With the wider use of electronic devices and systems in cars, the safety implications of electronic systems have become evident. According to reports from the USA, numerous lethal accidents have occurred due to sudden acceleration. Accidents in Sweden have also been reported. At the request of the Swedish Road Safety Office, the Swedish Defence Research Establishment has carried out a risk assessment of a cruise control system in order to establish its safety performance. This system, made by HELLA, is an optional device in many common cars. It comprises electronic as well as mechanical and pneumatic subsystems. By means of reliability analysis methods such as Fault Tree Analysis and Fault Modes and Effects Analysis, some single-point-fault modes are disclosed. The risk assessment, verified in tests, shows that a single fault such as a bad solder joint causes sudden acceleration. This means that the alleged events are possible. This disclosed single-point-fault mode establishes an upper limit for the safety of this cruise control. [System Designation : HELLA GR Steuergeraet 12 5GA 003 828-00].
  • Kimseng, K. , Hoit, M.,  Pecht, N. : Physics of Failure of a Cruise Control Module Microelectronics Reliability Vol 39, pp. 1423-1444 February 1999.
  • Over a  five year period owners of a particular cruise control had complained that it did not properly operate. Typical intermittent faults complained of : not engaging upon command; unexpected acceleration overshooting the desired set speed. More than 96% of the reported failed modules returned to the company passed bench tests. The paper presents a physics-of-failure process to identify, induce and analyze failure mechanisms causing intermittent failures. Explains why the manufacturer's tests were neither representative of  automotive environments, nor were conducted in a way that would have enabled actual failures to be assessed.  [A very important paper that explains and manages to reproduce intermittent open and short circuits on suspect cruise control PCBs. Paper does not however consider the control system response implications of particular open or short circuits.]
  • Electronic Throttle Control ­ A Dependability Case Study Hans Mauser (Siemens AG, ZT PP 2) and Erwin Thurner  (Siemens AG, ICN WN ES HW 42).
  • The paper examines reliability issues connected with an electronic throttle control, in which the mechanical link between the accelerator pedal and the throttle is replaced by an electronic link. It scrutinises the safety and availability of a variety of electronic control architectures and their capability to ensure that under fault conditions built-in system redundancy will either maintain system performance, or ensure that it degrades gracefully to allow safe limp home  or safety stop. It considers that about 1% of single faults may cause a runaway condition. The faults that might lead to runaway  include: faulty torque requests induced by faults in various car components (gear switch signals, deceleration slip control, faulty pedal reference signal etc.), faults in analogue to digital converters, faults in the torque computing process, processor faults. The authors conclude that  a dual processor system is required with each processor checking the other processor, as a minimum, to ensure an adequate degree of safety and that  the best solution would be a full dual electronic system, with each system checking the other, and with one processor checking the process calculations. [Although cruise control - i.e. an outer speed control loop - is not specifically mentioned, a fault in the cruise control loop would, in  their terminology, generate a faulty torque request. Possible cruise control faults would therefore seem to be covered by their approach.]

    EMC and Functional Safety in Road Transport [Annex to IEE Guidance Document on EMC and Functional Safety]. Lists 21 electronic systems that may be present in the modern automobile, including cruise control,  some of which have the potential to endanger the safety of the vehicle occupants or other road users should an error or a mis-operation occur. It categorises the EMC phenomena that need to be considered under six headings (broadband radiated emissions, narrow band radiated emissions, conducted transient emissions, conducted transient immunity, radiated immunity and electrostatic discharge) and summarises the standards on each. It summarises the Automotive EMC Directive and offers a critique from a safety point of view. It concludes with a summary of known incidents connected, or claimed to be connected, with EMC.

  • The experience of the Anticipatory Failure Determination (AFD) method applied to an Engine Concern  Vladimir Proseanic (Ideation Int.) Dmitry Tananko (Ford Motor Co.) Svetlana Visnepolschi (Ideation Int.) The paper discusses the results of the AFD application to solving a Hitching/Ringing concern on an Engine. The AFD approach has been used by a joint Task Force team to identify the root cause of this Hitching/Ringing phenomena.The problem is related to slow oscillation of the whole powertrain of the vehicle under steady pedal position (Ringing) or cruise control condition (Hitching). [First presented at the Altshuller Institute TRIZCON2000, May 1, 2000].
  • NASA RP 1374 July 1995: Report on Electronic Systems Failures and Anomalies Attributed to Electromagnetic Interference  "This report is to acquaint the reader with spacecraft electronic systems failures and anomalies caused by electromagnetic interference (EMI), show the importance of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) activities in conjunction with space flight programs, and provide an investigation into the history of some well-known EMI system failures and anomalies in military and commercial electronic systems... The inclusion of nonspace systems also helps to illustrate that evolving electronic systems are increasingly sensitive to EMI and NASA personnel must continue to be diligent in the pursuite of EMC on space flight systems."
  • Defence Standard 59-41 (Part 6) Issue 1 26 August 1994. Electromagnetic Compatibility Part 6 : Code of Practice for Military Vehicles Installation Guidelines. [UK Ministry of Defence] Guidelines for the electromagnetic compatibility of military vehicles in terms of their design and construction and in the design and installation of electrical and electronic equipment and systems within them. http://www.dstan.mod.uk/data/59/041/06000100.pdf
  • Preempting aircraft wiring failures will have a direct impact in making commercial and military aircraft safer. AFRL's Information Directorate, Information Technology Division, Dynamic Command and Control Branch,Rome NY. Wire cable chafing and connector corrosion are well understood and age-related problems, which contribute greatly toaircraft wiring failure. They are also suspect in several military and commercial aircraft incidents and accidents. The Information Directorate developed several innovative techniques to detect these problems before they cause system failures.1,2,3 Both techniques discussed in this article received patents in the summer of 2001 (Patent Nos. 6,265,880 and 6,275,050).http://www.afrlhorizons.com/Briefs/Mar02/IF0011.html
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Concerned with Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) Problems : Talk Papers from the Food and Drug Administration  The FDA, as the primary agency overseeing the safety of electronic medical devices, has recently increased its interest in reports of electromagnetic interference with the function of electronic medical devices and motorized aids like wheelchairs and scooters. For example, a stray signal from a cellular phone, CB radio, or similar piece of transmission equipment could cause a person in a powered wheel chair waiting for a red traffic light to move uncontrollably into the intersection. These concerns were addressed in two Talk Papers released on August 8 and August 26, 1994:
  • Keeping Medical Devices Safe from Electromagnetic Interference by Rebecca D. Williams    May 1995 FDA Consumer  Reports how a man in a powered wheelchair was seriously injured when his chair rode off a cliff at high speed. He was several miles from a radio tower and three blocks from a busy road, where mobile radios were likely in use. http://www.fda.gov/fdac/reprints/emi.html

  • Electrical Contacts - background references:
    • Braunovic, Milenko; Konchits, Valery V.; Myshkin, Nikolai K.: Electrical Contacts - Fundamentals, Applications and Technology CRC Press 2007 ISBN -13:978-1-57444-727-9, ISBN-10: 1-57444-727-0
    • Slade, Paul G.;Editor.  Electrical Contacts - Principles and Applications Marcel Dekker, Inc 1999 ISBN 0-8247-1934-4
    • Holm, Ragnar : Electrical Contacts -Hugo Gebers Foerlag Stockholm 1946 Fundamental study of the theory and practice of electrical contacts
    • Llewellyn-Jones, F. : "The Physics of Electrical Contacts" Oxford 1957, which refers to the work of Fairweather:
      • Fairweather, A.  Effects of corrosion on a closed metallic contact and Microphonic noise
      • J. Inst. Electrical Engineers (1945) Vol 92, 301. Proc Inst Elect Engrs (1953) Vol 100 (1) 154.
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0: Cruise Control Home
2:What is Cruise Control?
3: Principles
4: Functional aspects
5: What is Sudden Acceleration?
6: Incidence & Examples
7: Internal 
failure mechanisms
8: Discussion
of  Failure Mechanisms
9: Links & References

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Section 9 : Version 1.1 Updated February 21st 2002 and May 8th 2002, May 16th 2002, September 13th 2002, 
January 31st 2003, February 10th 2003, February 13th 2003, February 14th 2003, February 26th 2003, March 2nd 2003 March 10th 2003, May 2nd 2003, May 8th 2003, June 17th 2003, July 2nd 2003, September 3rd 2003, November 16th 2003, December 31st 2003, January 4th 2004, January 6th 2004, January 10th 2004, Feb 11th 2004, March 21st 2004, March 28th 2004, April 1st 2004, April 14th 2004
.Version 1.2:
May 7th 2004, May 29th 2004, Aug 8th 2004, October 7th 2004, October 11th 2004, December 4th  2004, January 31st 2005, March 9th 2005, March 23rd 2005, March 25 2005, April 17th 2005. April 20th 2005, May 19th 2005, Split into separate sub-pages August 9th 2005, Nov 25th 2005, June 4th 2007
©Antony Anderson Version 1.0 February 2001 and Version 1.1 July 2001 and version 1.2 May 7th 2004