Toyota's bad luck the result of cosmic rays?

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Could cosmic rays be responsible for Toyota‘s recent woes? It sounds like the stuff of sci-fi, but it may well be all too real. Italics mean business.

So the story is that cosmic rays have been known to interfere with other electronics and forms of transportation here on Earth, including computer systems and aircraft, so the theory is that, well, maybe these same rays are screwing with Toyota’s vehicles? Toyota loads its cars with electronics (far more so than other manufacturers, which would explain these rays have only affected Toyota), but the company has, so far, insisted that its problems are mechanical in nature—sticky pedals and the like.

What could these mysterious cosmic rays cause? Software crashes, mainly, which is a problem if your car has more in common with an Intel Core i7 than a Chevy Nomad. (Special thanks to Matt for supplying me with the name of a classic American car.)

Toyota, of course, has rubbished these claims, saying that its electronics are engineered for “absolute reliability.” And who knows, maybe it’s right? After all, wasn’t one of those high-profile Prius crashes said to be the likely result of driver error, and not any sort of engineering flaw?

Incidentally, cosmic rays are the reason why CrunchGear is down as often as it is.

I, for one, would like to see what actual engineers think of Toyota’s problems. So, any engineers in the house? Any idea what’s going on, or what avenues should be explored?

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