In a Bit of a Comedown, NASA Scientists To Study Cars' Brakes

2010 Toyota Prius

Toyota Prius 2010Courtesy Toyota

Responding to concerns about Toyota's recall of 8 million cars, President Obama has asked the National Academy of Science (NAS) and NASA to conduct a formal investigation of computer technology in cars. The NAS will oversee the broad program, while NASA will specifically examine computer-controlled acceleration in Toyota's Prius hybrid.

The NAS research panel will look into how electromagnetic interference, computer error, hardware and software design, human error, and a host of other factors can influence sudden acceleration and deceleration in cars controlled by computer. The NASA side will concentrate solely on how electromagnetic interference, not floor mats, human error, or faulty gas pedals, may have led to the sudden acceleration that instigated the recall.

Overall, the investigation will cost around $3 million, and ensure that Jay Leno has monologue fodder for the duration of the study.