After a very public breakup in July, Tesla CEO Elon Musk decided to refrain from commenting on his company’s relationship with Mobileye, Israel-based maker of collision detection and driver assistance systems and Tesla’s former partner in the development of Autopilot.
But on Wednesday, Mobileye’s chief technology officer, Amnon Shashua, didn’t shy away from commenting on the situation and opened up on what he says led to the end of the relationship.
Mobileye’s EyeQ3 chip, which is currently in Tesla’s vehicles, will still be supported but the company will move away from the system in future iterations of the Autopilot. Each company hinted that they initiated the breakup.
After the breakup, Tesla’s Autopilot Program Director, Sterling Anderson, said that Tesla needed a “tight integration” of both hardware and software. Last Sunday, Tesla announced its latest Autopilot update with a new radar processing technology enabled through working directly with its radar supplier, Bosch, a Tier 1 supplier, unlike Mobileye, which is a Tier 2 supplier.
But now Mobileye claims clearly that it initiated the breakup because it believed Tesla was “pushing the envelope in terms of safety”. In a strange interview with Reuters, CTO Amnon Shashua said:
“It is not designed to cover all possible crash situations in a safe manner. No matter how you spin it, (Autopilot) is not designed for that. It is a driver assistance system and not a driverless system,”
Of course, Tesla never claimed that the Autopilot is a “driverless system”. By definition, it means that there’s no driver in the car, but the automaker displays warnings to keep your hands on the wheel throughout the activation process and the use of Autopilot.
A Tesla spokesperson responded to Shashua’s comments on Wednesday:
“Since the release of Autopilot, we’ve continuously educated customers on the use of the features, reminding them that they’re responsible to keep their hands on the wheel and remain alert and present when using Autopilot. Drivers must be prepared to take control at all times.”
Shashua added during the interview:
“Long term this is going to hurt the interests of the company and hurt the interests of an entire industry, if a company of our reputation will continue to be associated with this type of pushing the envelope in terms of safety,”
He didn’t go in details with examples of “this type of pushing the envelope in terms of safety”.
Again, Tesla is still using Mobileye’s EyeQ3 chip to power its computer vision technology from the front-facing camera of the Autopilot, but it will be the last application of the system in Tesla’s cars. On Sunday, Elon Musk said that Tesla was reaching the limit of the processing power in the Model S/X and that new hardware would need to be introduced in order to enable any major new feature, but the current system would still improve on fleet learning for years to come, according to the CEO.