Washington, March 27 (ANI): A new research has come up with a surprising finding that Toyota's faulty gas pedals could be a result of cosmic rays from space.
Toyota's sticky gas pedals caused sudden and unintended acceleration in several of the automaker's top-selling Toyota and Lexus-brand cars, which led to a massive recall of more than 9 million vehicles worldwide, beginning in November last year.
While ongoing inquiries attempt to locate the source of the problem and figure out a fix, investigators might find it useful to examine a far-out culprit, in the form of cosmic ray radiation from deep in the cosmos, which has been known to plague vulnerable data and memory chips in electronics.
Scientists now say that cosmic rays could be at least partially to blame for Toyota's mechanical defects.
The problem could get worse in the future, as the increasing use of tiny computer chips - replacing mechanical parts - makes cars more and more vulnerable to space radiation.
Federal regulators were prompted to look into the possible role that cosmic rays played in Toyota's product recall fiasco after an anonymous tipster suggested the design of Toyota's microprocessors, software and memory chips could make them more vulnerable to interference from radiation compared with other automakers.
This is because Toyota has led the auto industry in its widespread inclusion of electronic controls in the manufacture of their various car models.
As electronic devices are made to perform more and more functions on smaller circuit chips, the systems become more sensitive and vulnerable to corruption, and thus more prone to interference from radiation, according to Ewart Blackmore, a senior researcher at TRIUMF, a cyclotron facility in Vancouver, Canada, that works with companies to test and analyze the effects of radiation on products.
"Radiation is certainly a potential cause of Toyota's problems," Blackmore told Live Science.
"What's not known is what direction Toyota and other automakers are taking in terms of finding and correcting these issues," he said.
As a start, automakers and regulators need to understand the complex and sometimes mysterious ways cosmic rays affect electronics on Earth. (ANI)