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The Volkswagen pollution monitor defeat device.

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The Volkswagen pollution monitor defeat device.

Old 22nd Sep 2015, 21:13
  #61 (permalink)  
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Could this manipulation of software be applied to other articles which have software controlling their functions? For example, an item e.g a TV, that has a manufacturers warranty for its first two years and then suddenly, and fatally, fails just after the warranty has expired. The fault being unrepairable thus requires replacement of the whole unit and, as it's out of warranty, the buyer is left funding a complete new purchase.
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Old 22nd Sep 2015, 21:32
  #62 (permalink)  
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Designed in expiry times have been a feature of electronic devices for years. [email protected] printer cartridges were designed with a device that indicated the cartridge was empty and prevented further use after a certain elapsed time even though there was actually plenty of toner powder left. The manufacturer argued that this was done to always ensure that print quality was maintained.

It is trivial to design and program software timers to disable some vital custom programmable chip in a TV, or computer and prevent it working after a certain elapsed period. With a little ingenuity a degree of randomness will be incorporated so that failures do not all occur exactly the same time after installation.

Obsolescence can be a matter of simply introducing constant regular software updates knowing that at some point older systems can no longer cope. Computer and video console manufacturers have been doing this for years.
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Old 22nd Sep 2015, 21:37
  #63 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by G-CPTN View Post
One could postulate that the previously (ousted) CEO (Burnt Fishtrousers) has blown the whistle to get back at the current CEO - but I doubt that either CEO would have had the foggiest idea about this event.

True, someone at VW was aware of what was going on (probably a few 'technicians'and at least one designer), but this is not the sort of thing that would have needed approval at board level.

Ah but the Captain of the ship is always responsible for any accident no matter who the real culprit is.
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Old 22nd Sep 2015, 21:50
  #64 (permalink)  
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I find it difficult to believe that a conscious decision to alter the ECU characteristics of VW diesel cars under emissions testing was not undertaken at board level.
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Old 22nd Sep 2015, 21:57
  #65 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Burnt Fishtrousers View Post
Lonewolf 50

If you lived UK with the ever burgeoning green restrictions , taxes, concessions to cyclists ,public transport then the days of diesel may well be numbered. There is already talk of charging diesel drivers to enter towns and cites based on emissions of NO2
Diesel has had a revival here in the last ten - fifteen years, even though the price has gone up. So too has the biodiesel conversion kit business for big trucks, which a friend of mine makes good money installing ... in part due to the price increase for diesel.

Why the price increase in diesel here in the US? It didn't used to cost more than gasoline, per gallon.

Good question. I get the impression that supply and demand factors have been changed due to a change in output percentages from refineries. Some of that is due to the new (clean diesel) formulae requiring a significant change in industrial plant at the production level and distribution challenges. (This from a few oil industry friends, there are other reasons as well).

Diesel used to be a LOT cheaper here, and a LOT dirtier. It is the fuel of choice for big trucks. A lot of us were hoping that with diesel getting cleaner, there'd be more diesel cars, more diesel production, and both a lower cost and a wider use of diesel as fuel.

Turbo diesels, particularly VW's, are more commonly seen around here.

The bogey has been emissions for quite some time, as compared to gasoline (unleaded, and catalytic converters) that goes back to the 70's era emissions requirements, federally mandated.

Last edited by Lonewolf_50; 22nd Sep 2015 at 22:07.
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Old 22nd Sep 2015, 22:02
  #66 (permalink)  
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Don't drive any diesel. They're dirty, mucky things that kick out crap that the plants can't use.

Now petrol is vilified for kicking out CO2, but plants like that. Am I a 'greenie' if I like putting CO2 in the atmosphere for the plants to be able to use?
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Old 22nd Sep 2015, 22:17
  #67 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by TWT
I find it difficult to believe that a conscious decision to alter the ECU characteristics of VW diesel cars under emissions testing was not undertaken at board level.
If that is true, then many more people within the VW organisation would be implicated.
You don't get a programmer walking into the CEO's office and asking for the OK to cheat and the CEO saying "Sure - go right ahead Laddie".
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Old 22nd Sep 2015, 22:24
  #68 (permalink)  
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General Motors killed at least 124 people with a known defective part. They paid a remarkably lenient voluntary 'fine' of a few hundred million, which goes to gumment coffers, not real people.

VW knows that they will get severely hammered for their fraud and have already set aside six Billion bucks, knowing that the shakedown will actually be for a ten figure sum, not mere billions.

Of course, GM is rather better represented at The House(s) of Shame than the Germans are. Yer jerry is more than a little averse to corruption on the American scale than the modern day fascists of America are.
Good point.

Anybody who thinks the witch hunt is going to destroy VW really needs to think again.

VW may only have 1 plant in Tennessee BUT there is no way Germany will sit back and watch the US go after one of its biggest companys.

GM and Ford may find themselves coming on for a lot of scruitiny in Germany and they sell twice as many cars as VW does in the US.

Lets see Germany has done a big deal with Russia on NordStream 2 Gas and US is talking about putting new Nuke's into USAF bases in Germany.

VW will pay a smallish fine as otherwise Germany is more than able to tell White House what to do with itself and I have a feeling it will have lots of other EU countrys in support.
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Old 22nd Sep 2015, 22:25
  #69 (permalink)  
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It's not just VW that's going to have trouble...

Wandering around other boards discussing this, at least 2 US programmers have stated that their software also detected EPA tests and changed the engine parameters. Larger diesels for sure, but I don't think this will stop at VW being outed.
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Old 22nd Sep 2015, 22:50
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The NOx emissions are typically reduced by the addition of an AdBlue/DEF injection system.Isn't this a case of VW (and others) wanting to reduce the cost of the vehicles,and therefore increase sales by omitting this system ?

Will VW now have to install the Adblue/DEF systems in a recall ?
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Old 22nd Sep 2015, 23:24
  #71 (permalink)  
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I find it difficult to believe that a conscious decision to alter the ECU characteristics of VW diesel cars under emissions testing was not undertaken at board level.
I find it very easy to believe. In the limit it could be a single programmer who decided to do it, possibly just to see if he could, plus one or two people not doing their job properly at the code review and actually looking at the code in detail. Easter eggs turn up all the time in software. I've written code that had extra features, although none of them were at this level. (Some even became official features when the marketing department said "wouldn't it be nice if...")

What's more likely is that a small team realised they were going to have trouble passing the tests and came up with a workaround, or something they wrote for testing purposes accidentally got into the production code.

In California, for modern petrol cars (I don't have a diesel car so I don't know if they have more stringent tests) they don't even bother with an exhaust gas analyser, they just ask the car's engine management system what it thinks. You only get the gas analyser treatment if your car is too old to have the interface.
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Old 23rd Sep 2015, 00:44
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Despite all the immediate conspiracy theories that someone with an opposing interest to VW is "out to get them", or "out to get diesels banned" - the true story of the VW fraud exposure is the exact opposite.

A small group called the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), headed by one John German, set out last year to prove diesel vehicles were now cleaner than other cars.

The ICCT was intent on proving that diesels were now as clean as any other engine produced, and they were a viable product, because CARB and the U.S. EPA have vast experience in setting engine emission targets and testing of engines.
The ICCT idea was that they could use the U.S. results and experience to show the Europeans that the same levels of low diesel emissions could be reproduced in Europe.

However, when the ICCT began actual road testing of diesel emissions in diesel cars in the U.S., they found substantial differences between the EPA/CARB test results and actual results on the highway.
The differences were not small - they were huge - up to 5 to 30 times the levels that the EPA/CARB test results showed.
ICCT initially thought they had a few malfunctioning engines - but then further testing showed the excessive pollution was not confined to just a few engines.
As a result, ICCT went to the EPA and CARB and showed them the discrepancies in test results, and the ordure hit the rotating air-moving device.

ICCT are completely dismayed, because the result has been the exact opposite of what they were trying to achieve - to improve the sales position of the current, "clean" automotive diesel engines.

John German is now saying that all manufacturers must be put under the spotlight, to uncover other cheaters, and to make the diesel engines meet the legislated emissions levels on the highway.
However, whether that can be actually done, without serious reductions in performance, fuel economy, or engine life, remains to be seen.

It is more than likely that ICCT have inadvertently substantially destroyed the automotive diesel engine market (particularly in the U.S. and California) and it's entirely possible some manufacturers will now cease to even offer diesel engines as an option.
The economics of diesel engines are in the balance at the best of times, with higher purchase costs, higher construction costs, higher repair costs, higher fuel prices - and a perception that diesels were "noisy, dirty, and hard starting in the cold", all posing formidable stumbling blocks to diesel acceptance.
To have come this far in acceptance levels and to now face this huge setback, means that automotive diesel engines are back where they were, 30 years ago.

The man who uncovered VW emissions scam wants wider probe

Last edited by onetrack; 23rd Sep 2015 at 03:12.
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Old 23rd Sep 2015, 00:59
  #73 (permalink)  
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It is not only an environmental offence, and offence from that cars' industry.
It is a IT offence. Law is stronger in that case, because soft is hidden, easy to point complex system. In airspace industry we used to have trustful engineers. When FBW comes in the loop with software where engineers are now liers, FBW air safety is under a specific criminal threat. Issue is not specifically internet, but lack of honesty in software modern industry since around 1980. Ariane 501, Airbus, aso. Ref history...
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Old 23rd Sep 2015, 03:26
  #74 (permalink)  
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roulishollandais - I would hazard an educated guess that the amount of criminal input into FBW programming is exceptionally low, although it is possible.
You would have to carefully examine the potential range of reasons why software programming would contain hidden features that would rank as criminality. There would be only a small number of reasons, and only a very small number of people driven to do it.
It is more likely that software problems in FBW are related to unexpected external sources of radio wave emissions, and software program failure, due to being unable to cope with a 1 in 100,000,000 unforeseen combination of events.
As in every situation as regards aviation controls, there are robust backups that are designed to cope with unexpected failures - and in nearly every case, these have worked as designed - it was the human input in the cockpit that generally led to disaster.
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Old 23rd Sep 2015, 04:54
  #75 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by onetrack View Post
To have come this far in acceptance levels and to now face this huge setback, means that automotive diesel engines are back where they were, 30 years ago.
Every time I visit the UK, I have to wonder whether the reason the air here seems far less dirty is because diesel is far less common.

In a sane world, we've have been driving turbine engines since the 60s, and the choice between petrol or diesel (or tequila) would be pretty much irrelevant.
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Old 23rd Sep 2015, 05:46
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Originally Posted by MG23 View Post
Every time I visit the UK, I have to wonder whether the reason the air here seems far less dirty is because diesel is far less common.
Population density per sq km.

UK 413

Canada 3.41
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Old 23rd Sep 2015, 06:41
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It will be interesting to find out who signed off on this one. My bet is that it was done at a very high level, with some sort of logic such as "The engine passes the emission testing as performed, when that is the strict legal requirement as stated. What happens later, on the road ... that is not subject to testing as such and is therefore not an area of concern."

Think back to William Jefferson "Slick Willy" Clinton and "the meaning of 'is.'" Slick Willy was asked if there is anything going on between himself and Monica Lewinsky, when he said that there isn't, because there only was. He did not lie then, but he certainly was deceptive.

Here we see a requirement for certain cars to pass an emissions test, which they have done. That the purpose of the test, the cars not emitting pollutants beyond a certain level, was defeated, was thwarted, well ....

I bet that some brainbox in software development figured out that VW could do without this NOx-reducing urea system, thus saving the cost and inconvenience of having it installed, simply by manipulating the engine management software. The engines would perform as well as engines fitted with more complicated and expensive systems while still passing the same tests. That they did not meet the same standards, well, that is not what was being asked of them at the time of testing. That's fine; it's what you would expect of a boffin, but how in the world did more responsible types in senior management decided to go ahead with such a stupid idea?

In Nigeria, Shell fitted little snitch boxes to some of their company vehicles that were meant to see them driven at lower speeds at night; a warning tone was triggered by turning on the headlights and the exceedance was logged.

I was being transported by one of their locals when I noticed that he had not turned on the headlights although it was dark. He explained that he could drive 10 km/h faster with the lights off. Jesus wept.
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Old 23rd Sep 2015, 06:49
  #78 (permalink)  
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It probably all started with a technician saying, "Boss, how's this for an idea?"

(In German of course!)
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Old 23rd Sep 2015, 07:44
  #79 (permalink)  
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It is possible that once the sales department became aware of the software possibilities that they then sold this to senior management as a huge advantage over other manufacturers in order to earn brownie points and bonuses from increased sales.

I doubt whether the true story will ever be known but I have noticed that Winterkorn isn't blaming anyone specifically in his organisation,nor is he claiming that he wasn't aware of what was going on (I'm not saying he was though)

His 'We totally screwed up' response is interesting.
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Old 23rd Sep 2015, 07:51
  #80 (permalink)  
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, "Boss, how's this for an idea?"
Ideology is always a bad master.

Open acess to the code is the solution to avoid pressures. Patents need to be published.
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