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Battling the Ghost in the ECU

John Day

John Day

Posted Jun 25, 2010
3 Comments

This could amount to nothing, but in solving the mystery of sudden unintended acceleration it’s wise to check out all leads, and Rob Weekley of Orange, California, thinks he has a solution. He calls it “Ghost” Buster, referring to the “ghost in the ECU,” which some might blame for single-event upsets.

“An ECU has so many parts, it’s impossible to analyze every possible computational permutation under every possible circumstance,” Weekley says. “The pragmatic solution is to provide an inexpensive check on dangerous errant ECU actions – to render a vehicle safe from sudden unintended acceleration, even if the problem is the ECU itself.”

Weekley adds that the Ghost Buster does not prevent the ECU from attempting to accelerate suddenly, but instead prevents the vehicle’s engine from accelerating. “This is an entirely different approach,” he says.

Weekley describes the Ghost Buster as a box about the size of a business card that contains an E-circuit (E for emergency), a user interface (UI), and two pairs of polarity insensitive wires. One pair is for the E-circuit, which controls the vehicle, and the other is for the UI, which decides when and how to activate the E-circuit. Weekley’s prototype device also has a LED to indicate E-circuit activity.

“Both circuits are small, simple, and robust, and they can be packaged together or separately; installed in the engine compartment or the passenger compartment, or split between the two.” He’ll leave those decisions to organizations that license the technology, since Weekley has no plans to market the invention himself.

He says the electronics are immune to high energy ionizing radiation (cosmic rays) as well as to electromagnetic interference. He’s tested the Ghost Buster on several vehicles, and says it functions automatically, with no driver interaction required. It doesn’t set any trouble codes, and it’s compatible with other brake override systems.
Weekley is reluctant to say much more about his invention but is happy to show it to those willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Interested? Call him (714) 244-8003 or email jd.rweekley@dfgh.net.

Electromagnetic Interference, sudden unintended acceleration, ECU

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News (johndayautomotivelectronics.com) to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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Comments 3

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The "Ghost" Buster was evaluated by a Military, Aerospace, & Product Safety testing company, and stated to be "fail safe by design".

R. Weekley
9:25 PM Jun 25, 2010

Here is an interesting June 8, 2010 CR article on Brake Override. The 'Ghost'Buster does not do anything better than the best shown in the video, except it is: Very simple. Very reliable. Very inexpensive. Most importantly, Independent of the ECU. Most Important because, in a critical life/death safety circumstance, independent reliability is paramount. Ask BP.

R. Weekley
8:25 PM Jun 30, 2010

Here is an interesting June 8, 2010 Consumer Reports article on Brake Override. http://blogs.consumerreports.org/cars/2010/06/smart-throttle-great-idea-but-where-do-i-find-it.html The 'Ghost'Buster does not do anything better than the best shown in the video, except it is: Very simple. Very reliable. Very inexpensive. Most importantly, Independent of the ECU. Most Important because, in a critical life/death safety circumstance, independent reliability is paramount. Ask BP.

R. Weekley
9:31 PM Jun 30, 2010

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