The saga of the breakup between Tesla and Mobileye just keeps getting messier. After the comments made by Mobileye CTO Amnon Shashua claiming that Tesla was “pushing the envelope in terms of safety”, Tesla issued a scathing response alleging that Mobileye used some questionable methods to force Tesla to use their system for future generations of the Autopilot.
Today, Mobileye responded to the allegations, partly refuting them, and again reiterating that they initiated the end of the partnership because they disagreed with Tesla on their approach to safety with the Autopilot.
But the statement is surprisingly not trying to refute some of Tesla’s most serious allegations.
The press release issued by Mobileye:
JERUSALEM, Sept. 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — (NYSE: MBLY) – In response to inquiries received this morning, Mobileye N.V. notes that the allegations recently attributed to a spokesperson for Tesla regarding Mobileye’s position in respect of Tesla internal computer visions efforts are incorrect and can be refuted by the facts
It has long been Mobileye’s position that Tesla’s Autopilot should not be allowed to operate hands-free without proper and substantial technological restrictions and limitations. In communications dating back to May 2015 between Mobileye Chairman and Tesla’s CEO, Mobileye expressed safety concerns regarding the use of Autopilot hands-free. After a subsequent face to face meeting, Tesla’s CEO confirmed that activation of Autopilot would be “hands on.” Despite this confirmation, Autopilot was rolled out in late 2015 with a hands-free activation mode. Mobileye has made substantial efforts since then to take more control on how this project can be steered to a proper functional safety system.
Tesla’s response to the May 7 crash, wherein the company shifted blame to the camera, and later corrected and shifted blame to the radar, indicated to Mobileye that Mobileye’s relationship with Tesla could not continue. Failing agreement on necessary changes in the relationship, Mobileye terminated its association with Tesla. As for Tesla’s claim that Mobileye was threatened by Tesla’s internal computer vision efforts, the company has little knowledge of these efforts other than an awareness that Tesla had put together a small team.
In any event, it is Mobileye’s policy not to respond to rumors or other spurious claims in the press. Mobileye has commented fully on its relationship with Tesla and will not provide further comment. Mobileye’s deeply held view is that the long-term potential for vehicle automation to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities significantly is too important to risk consumer and regulatory confusion or to create an environment of mistrust that puts in jeopardy technological advances that can save lives.
Interestingly, the “facts” cited in the statement don’t even refute Tesla’s most important allegation – that Mobileye used the threat of cutting the supply of EyeQ3 ship to Tesla’s current Autopilot program unless they accept to use their system for future autonomous programs. But instead, it reiterates what Mobileye claim is the reason for the end of the relationship since the beginning of the saga.
Furthermore, Mobileye admits to being aware that Tesla was developing its own vision system – though noting that they had only “little knowledge”. Of course, it’s doubtful that Tesla would explain their effort in details considering it would become a direct competitor to Mobileye.
It sounds like Mobileye doesn’t want to comment on the situation anymore – so it might be the end of the saga. Hopefully, we can move past the drama and focus on the technology.