Tuesday, September 22, 2015

VW Big Data Play

Volkswagen made headlines lately for cheating U.S. EPA regulators. But let's pay some respect to their engineers.

Apparently, there is no button or switch that tells car it's being tested - indeed - that would be obvious flaw in the emission test protocol. So VW engineers designed and deployed sophisticated algorithm that detects car is undergoing emission testing and turns emission control on just in time to pass it with flying colors. Then, after the test is over, it recognizes normal driving conditions and switches car software back to run diesel engine in its normal mode (that creates smog at up to 40 times the legal limit).

Having such feature running flawlessly in real time conditions on hundred thousand cars all over the world deserves special recognition. In fact, it was pure accident that this "cheating device" was found (here is Bloomberg's story how). At least, let's congratulate VW data scientists and software engineers - but not their execs - with quite an accomplishment.