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Lack of Software Testing Leads to Spike in Car Recalls

Posted by bugfinders on Friday 21 October 2016

BugFinders delivers web and mobile software testing to some of the biggest brands in the world. Manufacturers of any product — from toys to medicine to automobiles — must create items that are, above all else, safe to use

Automotive Recalls and Software TestingNot only is this essential to long-term brand value and corporate success, but the law also requires it. Whilst perfection is the goal, defects are bound to occur, especially in advanced products such as automobiles.

The automotive software is growing ever more sophisticated, and recently we’ve seen some great advances in technological additions to cars. But we’ve also witnessed some pretty major failures that come with the increasingly connected and autonomous vehicle.

It is for this reason that software-related recalls have spiked from under 5 percent in 2011 to 15 percent by the end of 2015. According to research from J.D Power, 189 separate software recalls have been issued in the past 5 years, affecting more than 13 million vehicles, of which 141 of these recalls presented a risk of crashing.

5 latest software-related car recalls

A few of the latest software-related car recalls:

  1. Volvo engine shut down affects 59,000 cars

Volvo recalled a whopping 59,000 cars due to a software issue that caused the engine and electric system to shutdown while the car is in motion. Luckily, there were no reports of accidents due to the fault, and the company released an update to eliminate the fault.

  1. Tesla Motors security hack

Cyber-security researchers from Keen Security Lab published a video and a blog post in which they showed how they were able to remotely infiltrate the Model S' controller area network, allowing them to operate the safety controls, such as the door locks and the braking system. In this instance, no cars were recalled, as Tesla worked very quickly to release a software update to fix the bugs that allowed the security breach.

  1. 350,000 Honda Civics recalled due to faulty brake software

Honda US are to recall 350,000 Civics due to a glitch in their parking brake software. Although no crashes or injuries have been reported, it is believed the bug could cause an issue, as anyone who uses the brake and is unaware of the fault, could roll their car. Honda will be updating the electric parking brake software of the 350,000 affected.

  1. General Motors deadly airbag software defect

General Motors have announced they will recall 4.3 million cars, trucks and SUVs, due to a software issue that, in some cases, blocks the airbags from deploying during an accident. GM says the defect is linked to one death and three injuries.

  1. Audi software glitch that affects lighting systems

Audi has recalled nearly 80,000 cars due to a software problem that affects some models’ side marker lights. It was reported that when the headlights or parking lights are on the side marker lights would disable, making the vehicle less visible at night.

Software Testing Spend

How much should be spent on software testing?

"Today's cars can contain over 100 million lines of code. For perspective, an F-35 joint strike fighter jet contains about 9 million," said Neil Steinkamp, a managing director in SRR's automotive practice who has led the firm's research and analysis of automotive recalls. When you have that much software in a car and particularly when much of that software is relatively new — there are going to be some issues.

The increasingly connected and autonomous vehicle presents unique challenges for car manufactures.

It’s fair to say that over-the-air software updates, could start to replace car recalls in the future, which would alleviate the issue of drivers not returning their vehicles to the dealerships for manual software updates.

However, automotive software should not be failing in the first place. The risk is too high. The software should be tested carefully and thoroughly before release and after updates, saving the brands their reputation, a lot of money and more importantly, lives.

To find out about software testing, please get in touch with one of our Solutions Consultants today.