Investors appear to have taken Tesla's side in the dispute with Mobileye over the reason for the termination of the collaboration between the two companies on automated driving systems. Mobileye's share price fell 9.5% last week, to its lowest level since June 29, while Tesla Motors shares rose 5.6%.
Mobileye chairman Amnon Shashua, who is also the company's chief technical officer, raised a storm last week when he told news agency Reuters that the reason for the breakup of his company's partnership with electric car maker Tesla was that Tesla was "pushing the envelope in terms of safety” with the design of its Autopilot driver-assistance system. He said that Tesla had released an automated driving system onto the market that was not ready from a safety point of view, and that Mobileye's EyeQ3 sensor technology, which was installed on a Tesla car involved in a fatal crash in Florida in May, was designed as a driver assistance system and not a driverless system.
Tesla shot back with a statement that the real reason for the end of the collaboration was the fact that Tesla was developing its own superior driverless system. "When Tesla refused to cancel its own vision development activities and plans for deployment, Mobileye discontinued hardware support for future platforms and released public statements implying that this discontinuance was motivated by safety concerns," Tesla's statement said.
In response, Mobileye said that its position was that the automated driving system should not allow the drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel: "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.
"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."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 18, 2016
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