CodeSonar, Coverity Prevent, and Uno software
Ithaca, NY

The results of a ten-month study by 30 NASA engineers of possible electronic causes of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles was released recently by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). At the request of Congress, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began the study last March and asked NASA engineers with expertise in electronic and software systems to look into consumer claims that electronic systems may have played a role in reports of unintended acceleration.

As part of the investigation, NASA experts examined more than 280,000 lines of software. NASA’s analysis included performing static analysis on the software using three tools: GrammaTech CodeSonar, Coverity Prevent, and Uno (a research tool that originated at Bell Labs).

CodeSonar is a static source code analysis tool that uses a different technology for detailed inter-procedural source code analysis. CodeSonar analysis typically takes longer to complete than comparable tools, but can reveal more subtle types of defects and suspect coding patterns, requiring deeper path analysis (which can be more time-consuming).

“NASA found no evidence that a malfunction in electronics caused large unintended accelerations,” said Michael Kirsch, principal engineer and team lead of the study from the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), based at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA.

The NESC team included NASA software experts in California and NASA hardware and systems engineers in Maryland who examined computer-controlled electronic systems, electromagnetic interference, and software to determine if these systems played a role in incidents of unintended acceleration.

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