[SystemSafety] The VW Saga

Les Chambers les at chambers.com.au
Tue Oct 13 23:45:20 CEST 2015

500 years on, Shakespeare evokes real life in the VW drama. 


"... Light thickens, and the crow

Makes wing to th' rooky wood.

Good things of day begin to droop and drowse; ..."


Volkwagen's top executive in the U.S. tells U.S. lawmakers, "This was a couple of software engineers who put this in for whatever reason."



"... The lady doth protest too much, methinks ..." 


And the bounds of credibility are pushed even further. 


"... Whiles night’s black agents to their preys do rouse. ..."


For at some point VW will have to answer the following questions:

Who wrote the requirements specification that required a cheat mode?

Who reviewed and approved that specification?

Who performed the high level design and the detailed design?

Who had visibility of these specifications for the purposes of safety, V&V, standards compliance and logistic support?

Who implemented the code? It could not have been a one or two line mod as suggested by some stunningly misinformed journalists. The vehicle was put into a new mode which would have required integration of many sensors to determine the vehicle was on a rolling road. Just the code required to detect that the steering wheel was not deflecting could run into hundreds of lines. Then there is the state transition logic and ultimately the control software would be unique for cheat mode.

Who did the code reviews?

Who wrote the test specifications and what precursor documents did they use in their composition?

Who unit/integration tested the software (probably on some kind of simulator)

Who was the build manager?

Who integrated the software into the vehicle and performed hardware integration, system and performance testing?

Where are the test results?

Who signed off on safety?

Who approved the final release?

Where is the configuration register?


And so it goes on as the drama extends to a cast of thousands and is beginning to look like a very sad tale.

And VW's continued protestations of being sinned against by a couple of rogue programmers will in the future only compound their pain.


Macbeth was right:

" ... Thou marvel’st at my words: but hold thee still.

Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill. "





PS: Even worse. If we are looking at an honest man in the above video, it would mean that none of the above steps were taken. Could VW really be that agile? If so, and you own one of these vehicles, take it to the squasher and walk away.


From: systemsafety-bounces at lists.techfak.uni-bielefeld.de [mailto:systemsafety-bounces at lists.techfak.uni-bielefeld.de] On Behalf Of Matthew Squair
Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 2015 6:41 PM
To: Martyn Thomas
Cc: The System Safety List
Subject: Re: [SystemSafety] The VW Saga


Not to mention that's work, which requires funding from someone's budget. So unless they're running a complete slush fund there'll be some level of financial line item accountability somewhere. 


Unless VW has a black bag budget of course. :)

Matthew Squair


MIEAust, CPEng

Mob: +61 488770655

Email; Mattsquair at gmail.com

Web: http://criticaluncertainties.com

On 13 Oct 2015, at 7:15 PM, Martyn Thomas <martyn at 72f.org> wrote:

I'd like to see what the software configuration management system records about the reasons for the "defeat device".  No software change gets implemented without explanation and approval. 




On 12 Oct 2015, at 20:47, Chuck_Petras at selinc.com wrote:

In opening I will say that I am the owner of a '12 VW Jetta TDI. 

To me the issue isn't the NOx emission levels. Its the fact that VW had (has) a corporate culture that would condone this sort of thing. What other systems have been compromised? Is there an Easter egg in the stability control system? Airbags? This really is the issue. 

Regulators Investigating 2nd VW Computer Program on Emissions 
< <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/09/business/international/vw-diesel-emissions-scandal-congressional-hearing.html> http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/09/business/international/vw-diesel-emissions-scandal-congressional-hearing.html> 

​VW sets January for diesel emissions recall 
< <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/vw-sets-january-for-diesel-emissions-recall/> http://www.cbsnews.com/news/vw-sets-january-for-diesel-emissions-recall/> 
"Mueller said 'according to current information, a few developers interfered in the engine management.' He said he doesn't think the management board made the decision to use the manipulated software."

Chuck Petras, PE
Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc
Pullman, WA  99163  USA
 <http://www.selinc.com/> http://www.selinc.com
Tel: +1.509.332.1890

SEL Synchrophasors - A New View of the Power System < <http://synchrophasor.selinc.com/> http://synchrophasor.selinc.com>

Making Electric Power Safer, More Reliable, and More Economical (R)

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