NASA Scientists to Test Toyota Electronics

Expert group created after Columbia disaster will study sudden acceleration.

ByABC News
March 30, 2010, 1:29 PM

Mar. 30, 2010 — -- A safety board formed by NASA after the 2003 Columbia space shuttle explosion has joined the federal government's inquiry into the causes of sudden acceleration in some Toyota vehicles.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that engineers from NASA's Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) will help the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration explore potential problems with the electronic throttles in Toyotas.

"NASA is an organization that has a great deal of expertise in electronics," LaHood told ABC News, "and they're going to look at the electromagnetic problems that people believe have occurred."

"We want Toyotas and all cars to be the safest they can possibly be," said LaHood. "And if these folks can help us get there, then it will be well worth the time and energy and money it takes to get there."

The NESC, based in Hampton, Va., was created as an independent body to conduct safety reviews at NASA in 2003, after the Columbia space shuttle exploded while in flight.

NASA spokesman Keith Henry said a team of at least nine engineers will be led by principal engineer Mike Kirsch. Kirsch most recently spearheaded tests that determined it would be possible to make a crew capsule for the shuttle out of composite materials instead of metal.

Henry said the NESC engineers who will be looking into sudden acceleration are "the top people in their field, in this case electronics and 'crew' systems, systems that related to cockpits."

Possible electrical faults, said Henry, are "something that these engineers have been looking at for years and years." He said the number of engineers working on the project will probably increase.

Secretary LaHood said that the National Academy of Science will conduct also conduct a separate, 15-month inquiry into electronics and unintended acceleration in cars from a variety of manufacturers.

Henry said the NESC engineers who will be looking into sudden acceleration are \"the top people in their field, in this case electronics and 'crew' systems, systems that related to cockpits.\"

Possible electrical faults, said Henry, are \"something that these engineers have been looking at for years and years.\" He said the number of engineers working on the project will probably increase.

Secretary LaHood said that the National Academy of Science will conduct also conduct a separate, 15-month inquiry into electronics and unintended acceleration in cars from a variety of manufacturers.","publishedDate":"2010-03-30T17:29:36Z","contributors":[{"name":"ABC News","url":"","role":"","logo":"","logoAlt":""}],"modifiedDate":"2010-03-30T21:13:33Z","section":"Blotter","wordCount":294,"relatedTags":{"heading":"Related Topics","tags":[]},"lead":{"ratio":"16x9","disableForMobile":false,"type":"xl","mediaType":"image","alignCaptionToBody":true},"ads":{"Sticky":{"kvps":{"test":true}},"RightRail":{"kvps":{"test":true}},"InlineBox":{},"InlineOutstream":{"disabled":false},"Taboola":{"position":"bottom","pageType":"article","config":{"network":"abcnews-abcnews","mode":"thumbnails-a","container":"taboola-below-article-thumbnails","type":"article","targetType":"mix","placement":"Below Article Thumbnails"}}},"featuredVideo":null,"dateline":"Mar. 30, 2010 —","seo":{},"LivePromotion":{}},"autoUpdate":{"enabled":false,"topics":["general-elections-2020-balance-of-power"]}},"upw":{"balanceOfPower":{"electoral":{"header":"Biden Projected to be President-Elect","candidates":{"democrats":{"id":1036,"displayName":"Joe Biden","shortDisplayName":"J. 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