Apple Co-Founder Claims Toyota Prius Has "Scary" Software Problem He Can Duplicate

Illustration for article titled Apple Co-Founder Claims Toyota Prius Has "Scary" Software Problem He Can Duplicate

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak told a crowd today of an unintentional acceleration problem with his 2010 Toyota Prius, which isn't under a recall. "This is software. It's not a bad accelerator pedal," he told the crowd. "It's very scary."


When speaking to the Discovery Forum 2010 he spoke about the software issue with his new Prius:

"Toyota has this accelerator problem we've all heard about [...]

I have many models of Prius that got recalled, but I have a new model that didn't get recalled. This new model has an accelerator that goes wild but only under certain conditions of cruise control. And I can repeat it over and over and over again—safely."

He's not the first one to bring up a potential software issue related to the acceleration problems, but his word carries extra weight because of his experience with software and computers. It's important to note cars like the Toyota Camry have a drive-by-wire throttle system and the gas pedal isn't actually connected mechanically to the engine but relies on software to read inputs and control acceleration.

According to the Los Angeles Times, "two former NHTSA administrators, Ricardo Martinez and Joan Claybrook, have said they believe that some kind of electronic glitch may be causing the Toyota problems. Similar conclusions are being drawn by independent automotive safety experts, forensic mechanics and automotive electronics researchers, as well as many consumers." If this turns out to be the case it could widen the scope of NHTSA's investigation.

Toyota did say it would upgrade it's software to allow for a brake override system, but this doesn't seem to be related to Wozniak's issue. We'd certainly like to take a spin with the Woz and see him duplicate this to make sure this isn't just him not understanding how the cruise control works.


UPDATE: The Woz himself responds with more information about what's going on.


UPDATE II: Toyota, with a little help from Jalopnik, has reached out Wozniak and the company is going to borrow Steve's Prius.


Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


Hmm, maybe it's time for Apple to come out with an iCar...

It'd be powered by the sun, reliable, five times as fast as any other, and twice as easy to drive, but would only run on five per cent of the roads.

On the other hand, a Microsoft car would crash every day and require a Start button to turn it off.