[SystemSafety] The VW Saga

Matthew Squair mattsquair at gmail.com
Wed Oct 14 04:45:40 CEST 2015

The counter argument is that it is so chaotic and messy in the VW design
department that a) normalisation of deviant behavior could thrive
undetected, and b) such a change could be inserted undetected (and
untested, specified or documented).

I wouldn't be surprised if when the lid gets lifted back we see a software
development regime as dysfunctional as Toyota's was found to be in the wake
of it's unintended acceleration problems.

There's definitely the makings of a good sociology of engineering paper in
this. :)

Matthew Squair

MIEAust, CPEng
Mob: +61 488770655
Email; Mattsquair at gmail.com
Web: http://criticaluncertainties.com

On 14 Oct 2015, at 8:45 AM, Les Chambers <les at chambers.com.au> wrote:

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

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
<systemsafety-bounces at lists.techfak.uni-bielefeld.de>] *On Behalf Of *Matthew
*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

​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
Tel: +1.509.332.1890

SEL Synchrophasors - A New View of the Power System <

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

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