Das Auto, der Algorithmus, und der Smog

September 19, 2015 Comments Off on Das Auto, der Algorithmus, und der Smog

Looks like Volkswagen is going to have some ‘splainin’ to do: the company has been ordered to recall 482,000 diesel-powered vehicles (including Jetta, Golf, Passat, Beetle, and Audi A3) by the US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Justice, and California Air Resources Board.

VW is being accused of implementing an algorithm that detects when the car is being smog-tested and then applying full emission controls so that the vehicle will pass. At other times (like during normal road operations), the emission controls were programmatically relaxed and the car belched out much higher levels of pollutants such as nitrogen oxide.

You can read the violation notice here. Wow.

And as algorithms become more prevalent in everyday devices (i.e. “the Internet of Things”), there should be all sorts of entertaining stories to come. Some will involve felonious behavior, while others will just be the natural outcome of poor design or shoddy quality control.

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