In an interview with Reuters, Mobileye chairman and chief technology officer Amnon Shashua revealed the reason why the company broke off ties with Tesla Motors.
In the quarterly earnings call of the self-driving car technology supplier in June, Shashua said that Mobileye will continue working with Tesla Motors for the improvement of the EyeQ3 processor, which is used by the electric car manufacturer for the image analysis intelligence of the controversial Autopilot technology. However, Mobileye will not extend its partnership with Tesla Motors beyond the EyeQ3.
According to Shashua, the reason behind the separation is that Tesla Motors was "pushing the envelope" on safety with how it was designing Autopilot.
"It is not designed to cover all possible crash situations in a safe manner," Shashua said, adding that no matter how you look at the technology, Autopilot was not designed to enable a self-driving car system.
"It is a driver assistance system and not a driverless system," Shashua stated, elaborating that the actions of Tesla Motors could damage not just the company but also the entire self-driving car industry.
Shashua said that he had become fed up with Tesla Motors' mixed messages, as the company was boasting about the capabilities of its Autopilot technology but still requiring drivers to keep their hands on the wheel at all times.
When Mobileye and Tesla Motors separated, Shashua thought there was no actual partnership between the two companies, as Mobileye only provided its technology to Tesla Motors but was not able to work with the company in the implementation.
The safety of Tesla Motors' Autopilot system elevated into a controversial status after a Tesla Model S driver was killed in a car crash while the feature was turned on. The vehicle was driving down a highway when a tractor trailer started to cross. The technology was unable to detect the tractor trailer due to its side being colored white amid a bright sky, leading to the fatal accident.
Several incidents of Tesla Model S crashes while Autopilot was activated has since surfaced.
According to a spokeswoman for Tesla Motors, however, the company has never sold Autopilot as a technology that enables a driverless system or one that transforms the Model S into a self-driving vehicle.
The company will soon be releasing improvements to Autopilot that will shift the role of primary control sensor from onboard cameras into the vehicle's radar system. Elon Musk believes that such a move could have prevented the earlier mentioned accident from happening.