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Jaguar Recalls 18,000 Cars Over Major Software Fault 356

Posted by timothy
from the get-your-tatas-in-working-order dept.
DMandPenfold writes with this excerpt from ComputerWorld UK "Jaguar has recalled nearly 18,000 X-type cars after it discovered a major software fault, which meant drivers might not be able to turn off cruise control. The problem lies with engine management control software developed in-house by Jaguar. The problematic software is only installed on diesel engine X-Types, which were all produced between 2006 and 2010. Some 17,678 vehicles have been recalled, as a result of the potentially dangerous problem. If the fault occurs, cruise control can only be disabled by turning of the ignition while driving — which would mean a loss of some control and in many cars also disables power steering. Braking or pressing the cancel button will not work. 'Jaguar has identified that should an error with certain interfacing systems be detected the cruise control system will be disabled and an error message displayed to the driver on the instrument cluster,' the company said in a statement."
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Jaguar Recalls 18,000 Cars Over Major Software Fault

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  • by PPH (736903)
    Bumper sticker: All parts falling off this vehicle are of the finest British workmanship.
    • What no Lucas Prince of Darkness jokes?

      The Lucas motto: "Get home before dark."
      Lucas is the patent holder for the short circuit.
      Lucas - Inventor of the first intermittent wiper.
      Lucas - Inventor of the self-dimming headlamp.
      The three position Lucas switch - Dim, Flicker and Off.
      The Original Anti-Theft Device - Lucas Electrics.
      Lucas is an acronym for Loose Unsoldered Connections and Splices
      Lucas systems actually uses AC current; it just has a random frequency
  • From TFA

    Jaguar said drivers who returned their cars would need a software upgrade to their vehicle. No hardware needed to be replaced, it said.

    What is worse: having to recall 18,000 cars or having the ability to get an automatic update (wi-fi...) + the risk of the car being remotely hacked?

  • They had forgotten to add the leak_oil() function...

  • Why are software solutions even being used at all? Shouldn't these things be controlled by specialized discrete circuits? Software solutions seen more expensive and more fault-prone, the worst of both worlds.

    The Jaguar X-Type's software was custom built in-house, which could mean it's not even that mature or robust. Jaguar are not known for their software, why should we assume that their practices and methodology are sound enough when it comes to developing critical software systems? Do transportation
    • by Arlet (29997)

      When you're trying to solve the same problem, software solutions aren't necessarily worse than discrete circuits. The only difference is that software can solve more complex problems, so that's why software bugs are more common.

      • by AJH16 (940784)

        In fact, discreet circuits are theoretically harder to test than software that does the same thing and certainly harder to debug.

        • by w_dragon (1802458)
          Also harder to fix when you find an issue with 18000 delivered units.
        • In fact, discreet circuits are theoretically harder to test than software that does the same thing and certainly harder to debug.

          People like you scare me.

          I'm not sure it's even possible to create software that does *the same thing* as a discreet circuit. If it is possible, it's never done in practice. Software invariably does more. (Trivial example: Memory management.) And that is where the problem lies.

          Discrete controls will be assigned to one task and one task only (because making them do more makes the problem more complex, and thus involves more work). In practice, this makes them easier to test and debug.

          Software will be as

          • by Arlet (29997)

            I'm not sure it's even possible to create software that does *the same thing* as a discreet circuit

            That would be quite easy. It's the opposite way that's often impossible. Problems that can be easily solved in software are often too complex to solve in hardware.

            Software will be assigned multiple tasks, for reasons unknown

            The reasons are clear: software is capable of solving complex problems for a low price, and customers want those features.

        • by gnapster (1401889)
          But I can always count on a discreet circuit to keep its mouth shut when the boss asks about my programming.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As a software developer of another major car manufacturer (actually doing cruise control among other things), I can tell you that there are plenty of very very complicated systems in a car - much more complicated than what I would have dreamed of before starting here. The complexity cannot be put into hardware simply because of the weight of it the cables required between the interacting components.

      Cruise control is like most other components (in a modern car) connected to everything from crash detection sy

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        Right. That's why the most common method of locking a vehicle in cruise without a vacuum or wire system is to lock the throttle actuator, or simply override it in to a 'by wire' system. Since most modern vehicles use by-wire for the gas pedal now, this is the most common way. My bet is that they went out of their way with some backasswards convoluted design to stop the small time mechanics from having an easy way to fix cruise and TPS/MAF systems.

        I'm a big fan of mechanical systems for just this reason.

      • by NekSnappa (803141)

        As the owner of an '87 Jaguar XJ6 I have to agree with you. There are so many relays tucked away in odd, hard to reach locations sometimes I wish the ECU's were more complex back then.

        Although my car still has its original wiring harness smoke installed, it does have some electrical gremlins that I'm having a devil of a time tracking down.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Now that they have made an error it's much easier to update a software than to replace a circuit.

    • Why do you think a hardware solution would be less bug-prone than a software solution?

  • Hmm.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @10:39AM (#37831304)

    Sounds like a driver issue.

    • Ha.

      Speaking of which, I might suggest a driver-initiated technique to handle the situation: The cruise control might still allow you to change the cruise speed, which may temporarily inactivate cruise control. Push and hold the lever/knob/button to reset the cruise speed. Or use the increase/decrease speed function as your (rather clumsy) accelerator.

    • Lovely. Subtle. With all the "get a clutch" comments, I had "Meh"ed and moved on to other comments before my pun detector kicked in.

  • A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

    • Are you criticizing capitalism? Indeed, even libertarianism?

      A fight! A fight!

    • I'm not sure what "Oblig" means in this case, but you forgot to include the final factor D, which is the opportunity cost in lost revenue from bad publicity and lack of trust in your product over the next 15-20 years.
      • by squizzar (1031726)

        Unfortunately the first two rules of what is being referred two prevent me from disclosing what is being referred to...

  • If the fault occurs, cruise control can only be disabled by turning of the ignition while driving

    The advice is really "try turning it off and on again"?

    (How about adding a soft-reset button on the steering wheel for all these drive-by-wire features?)

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @10:53AM (#37831502)

    If the fault occurs, cruise control can only be disabled by turning of the ignition while driving â" which would mean a loss of some control and in many cars also disables power steering.

    Public Service Announcement time from a decade-long car geek.

    SHUTTING OFF YOUR ENGINE WILL NOT CAUSE YOU TO LOSE CONTROL OF YOUR CAR. You'll somewhat slowly come to a stop. You won't "endo". You won't flip over and crash in a ball of fire. Your wheels won't even lock up. Furthermore, once your car is moving at a walking pace, you no longer need power steering. Try it some time in a parking lot. And no, you won't lose your brakes, unless your braking system has been poorly maintained. Test this by shutting off your engine in your driveway and seeing how many times you can press the pedal before it suddenly goes hard. That's where you have lost braking assist. Even further: loss of braking assist does not mean you can't stop the car - you just have to press much, much harder.

    What is dangerous: if the ignition lock on the steering column activates and you need to steer. This is why you should turn the key to the accessory-only position.

    Braking or pressing the cancel button will not work

    Second PSA:

    BRAKING ALWAYS WORKS. With the exception of some ultrapowerful cars like the Veyron, there is an order of magnitude difference between the maximum torque your brakes can generate, and the maximum torque your engine can.

    The key is that you have to stop safely but quickly, firmly, and completely, and STAY STOPPED until you've shut off the engine. If you ride the brakes, you'll keep heating up the rotors, pads, and brake fluid. If the brake fluid boils (or more accurately, the water in the brake fluid, since it's hygroscopic and people aren't good about changing their brake fluid as often as they should) or you exceed the maximum operating temperature of the brake pads (passenger vehicle pads are designed for "cold" bite, ie to be useable for panic stops), then yes, you will not have effective brakes.

    • by MBCook (132727)

      Let me see if I get this straight.

      If I turn off my engine by turning the key, then I could end up engaging the ignition lock and the steering wheel won't be able to be turned. Also, I lose power steering, which could make keeping control of the car much more difficult. If my car won't respond to the normal ways to turn off cruise control, I think most people who think to use the keys would instinctively turn the car all the way off, not remember to only turn it to accessory. And in accessory, you still los

      • by Gordonjcp (186804)

        If it's stuck in gear, you won't lose the power steering since the engine will be getting turned by the momentum of the car.

        If you turn the key off, you won't lock the steering. The lock only comes on when you pull the key right out. If you manage to do this by accident, put the key back in and turn it to accessory.

        • by sjames (1099)

          On many cars, the steering will lock when you turn the key to the off position even if you leave it in the ignition.

          • I'm going to have to double check, but I'm pretty sure my car doesn't let you turn the key to the steering lock position unless the auto transmission is in park.. maybe neutral too. (99 acura tl)
            • by sjames (1099)

              I know mine is like that. It was handy to know that once when I had the throttle cable stick.

        • If you turn the key off, you won't lock the steering. The lock only comes on when you pull the key right out.

          Not on any car I've ever driven. In every car I've seen, the key has four or five positions, "Lock", "Off (sometimes)", "Accessories", "On" and "Start". The key can only be removed when it's in the "Lock" position, but turning it to that position *will* lock your steering, even if don't remove the key.

    • But some of us are not and we might have to loose speed FAST. NOW, not AFTER our brains have processed not just that we need to stop in a hurry BUT that now something is wrong and we have to do something we never really thought about doing while whatever has made it necessary to stop is approaching at 130km/h.

      Or translated, I am driving on cruise control, which means I am NOT fully in control of the car because I am not expecting anything, when suddenly there is an accident in front me. I slam on the brakes

    • Braking or pressing the cancel button will not work
      Second PSA:
      BRAKING ALWAYS WORKS. With the exception of some ultrapowerful cars like the Veyron, there is an order of magnitude difference between the maximum torque your brakes can generate, and the maximum torque your engine can.


      I think they are referring to the standard practice of pressing the brake to automatically disengage the cruise control. Apparently, that does not work in this case.
    • SHUTTING OFF YOUR ENGINE WILL NOT CAUSE YOU TO LOSE CONTROL OF YOUR CAR. You'll somewhat slowly come to a stop. You won't "endo". You won't flip over and crash in a ball of fire. Your wheels won't even lock up.

      I owned a 2004 Pontiac GTO at one point and, coming from a 1995 Chevy Cavalier, decided to slow down by shifting from fifth to third and rev matching, then completely releasing the accelerator.

      TOKYO DRIFT TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!

      There was this loud screeching and my car wiggled with every nudge of the steering wheel, it was like floating. The rear tires had completely lost traction on dry, black pave. That fuckin' V8 engine had enough negative torque with the throttle closed to skid my back wheels!

      Have fun

      • Were you braking? Engine braking might not work in a light car with huge engine. But the OP was talking about fighting an engine with your brake. Try this, since you seem to like doing such things. Floor both the accelerator and the brake at the same time. See who wins. Or floor the accelerator first, get it to some serious speed. Then brake, gently first and then increase the pressure till the brake also floors. Keep the accelerator floored all the time. See if the brake is able to bring the car to rest. Y
        • by Arlet (29997)

          You might warp the rotors, ruin the brakes and lose the treads on the tire

          The tires would be fine, since the brake counteracts the engine before you get to the tires.

          • Most jaguars are rear wheel drive, so I can see this experiment resulting in the rear wheels spinning and the front wheels stopped.
        • No, he said that shutting off your engine won't cause you to lose control. I simply backed off my engine (in a low enough gear) and it provided enough braking force without the brakes to put me into a rear wheel slide.

          Read the quoted line.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      This is why you should turn the key to the accessory-only position.

      I'm sure that will occur to drivers, with (slightly morphine-blurred) hindsight as the nice fire-persons are cutting them out of the wreckage. When you're driving along and the cruise control suddenly jams on, most mere mortal's thought processes will be along the lines of "What the fu...?!"

      More to the point, though, what is this "ignition key" of which you speak? Even in my DasMini you plug the key fob into a wireless socket (which powers everything up and releases the steering lock) and then press a b

    • which would mean a loss of some control and in many cars also disables power steering.

      SHUTTING OFF YOUR ENGINE WILL NOT CAUSE YOU TO LOSE CONTROL OF YOUR CAR.

      TFA was referring to a loss of some control, which is exactly what happens when you lose power steering/brake assist. It was not referring to a total loss of control or "endo"...

      Test this by shutting off your engine in your driveway and...

      Don't. With modern vehicles, letting the engine rotate while powered off may damage the catalytic converter when it is reached by non-burned/liquid fuel. You should only do that for a 10-20 meters in case of an emergency start (e.g., depleted battery due to age/cold temperatures).

      Braking or pressing the cancel button will not work

      BRAKING ALWAYS WORKS

      TFA, again, is correct since it is explaining that br

      • With modern vehicles, letting the engine rotate while powered off may damage the catalytic converter when it is reached by non-burned/liquid fuel.

        If the ignition switch is off, the fuel injectors won't be injecting.. Still, it's probably not a great idea

    • All good advice. Now you carry out that advice when travelling at 70MPH on a busy motorway. Not everybody knows the systems of their car as well as you do, and even those that do are liable to be panicked by the situation.

      How you can argue that potentially locking the steering wheel isn't losing control of your car is beyond me. Are you sure you can find the 'accessories only' position of the key when under that sort of stress?

    • Public Service Announcement time from a decade-long car geek.

      And like many geeks, your pronouncements are quite true - but irrelevant in the real world.

      Furthermore, once your car is moving at a walking pace, you no longer need power steering.

      But that part between whatever speed you are currently doing and a walking pace is a real bitch though.

      And no, you won't lose your brakes, unless your braking system has been poorly maintained. Test this by shutting off your engine in your driveway and s

  • So were any of the components in the cruse control system made by Lucas Industries [wikipedia.org]?

    If you have never worked on a British car then the humor may be lost on you but there is an entire sub culture around Lucas the prince of darkness [mez.co.uk].
  • Jaguar doesn't sell Diesels here. Like many other manufacturers, they assume that Americans are either too stupid to handle a Diesel, or they assume that Americans still think that all Diesels are the same as the terrible examples our big three produced in the 70s and 80s in response to the oil crisis.

    So yeah, it sucks that Jag has a software glitch. But nobody here has to worry about it since there are exactly zero Diesel X-types in the US.
    • by Arlet (29997)

      But nobody here has to worry about it since there are exactly zero Diesel X-types in the US.

      Not everybody here is from the US.

      • But nobody here has to worry about it since there are exactly zero Diesel X-types in the US.

        Not everybody here is from the US.

        Very true, and I could have been more clear on that. However many Americans will use this recall to bash Jaguar, when the recall involves only cars that they could not buy from their local Jaguar dealer for any amount of money.

    • Like many other manufacturers, they assume that Americans are either too stupid to handle a Diesel

      Not an american, but just wondering, why are Diesels more difficult to handle?

  • This is totally incompetent real-time programming and hardware design. There should be a stall timer in the hardware, and it should only be reset after all the safety-related conditions have been checked on each cycle. Safety-related functions and non-safety-related functions must be strongly isolated, preferably in different CPUs. This is all well understood. Some people need to be fired.

    I worked with some of the people who designed the Ford EEC IV, which controlled most Ford cars in the 1980s. Backup

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