Mobileye CEO Comments On Split With Tesla
Tesla’s Autopilot system, which Mobileye helped develop, was at the heart of the issueby Kirby Garlitos, on
Mobileye chairman and chief technology officer Amnon Shashua has shed light on the company’s recent split with Tesla, saying that the California-based electric car maker was “pushing the envelope in terms of safety.” The surprising admission comes less than two months after the two companies ended their short-lived partnership just as both were reaping the results of the Autopilot system.
As ground-breaking as the system was, and to a certain extent, still is, Shashua told Reuters that the system was “not designed to cover all possible crash situations in a safe manner,” before adding that “it is driver assistance system and not a driverless system.”
Mobileye’s concerns about the public perception of the system erupted into mainstream consciousness after a series of accidents involving the system, including one that ended up killing a Tesla Model S owner in Florida back in May 2016. While those incidents were not the main reasons behind the split between automaker and supplier, they did play a part in pushing Mobileye out the door, ending a once promising partnership that has instead turned into a public spat between the companies.
For its part, a Tesla spokeswoman responded to Shashua’s comments, saying that Tesla had never described the Autopilot system as self-driving tool, but as a “convenience feature” that still required the attention of the driver in case they need to override the system in the event of emergencies. The statement is the latest in a series of shots that Tesla has taken on Mobileye since the two companies split in July. Shortly after the partnership ended, Tesla came out with its own statement, saying that Mobileye “could not keep up” with the EV car firm’s product changes.
Outside of the occasional potshots aimed at one another, both companies have since moved forward with their respective businesses. Tesla has already made a series of updates on the system, most recently with the Software 8.0 update that was released a few days ago while Mobileye has put its attention on its other partnerships, most notably with BMW, Intel, and Delphi.
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It’s the age-old case of "He Said, She Said"
There’s really no point picking sides here because both companies presented valid points on why the partnership didn’t work out. What I am surprised about was how quick the partnership ended and the timing on when it happened.
To be clear, I get where Mobileye is coming from. As promising and as revolutionary as Autopilot is, it’s not big enough for the maker of collision detection and driver assistance systems to remain on board with if it feels that it doesn’t align with the company’s own objectives. That’s what Amnon Shashua was alluding to when he alluded to the company being uncomfortable with how it believed Tesla was presenting the system to the public. Nobody could make that decision for Mobileye except Mobileye, which it eventually did.
As far as Tesla is concerned, I do think that the company may have oversold the system’s capabilities in the beginning. But once it became clear that drivers were misusing the technology, the automaker didn’t fall short in raining down one reminder after another one how to properly use the system. I know a lot of people think that Tesla waited too long before issuing those safety notices, but the point is that in my mind, it’s not completely fair to put all of the blame on the shoulders of Tesla for what Mobileye describes as “pushing the boundaries of safety.”
The ship has sailed for any immediate reconciliation on both sides, but hopefully, both Tesla and Mobileye can move past this failed relationship and somehow find a way to work together again at some point in the future. That may be a long-shot, but as is always the case in the business, stranger things have happened.