Tesla is bristling over the recent Mobileye claim that its automated driver-assist technology is not fit to run as a driverless system. Mobileye, an Israeli-based tech company, is an erstwhile camera supplier and the carmaker claimed that its latest negative comment only came after Tesla revealed a plan to build its own vision system.
The word war began after Amnon Shashua, Mobileye chairman, gave an interview earlier this week, criticizing a tendency on the part of Tesla to push the envelope when it comes to safety. He was just seen giving interviews in June during his company's quarterly earnings call, touting Mobileye's role in Tesla's EyeQ3 processor. This is the technology behind the Autopilot's image analysis intelligence capability.
In citing the shortcoming, Shashua underscored that Autopilot is a driver assistance system and not an entirely automated or driverless technology.
"It is not designed to cover all possible crash situations in a safe manner," Shashua said in a Reuters interview. "No matter how you spin it, (Autopilot) is not designed for that."
The statement is significant in a period when Tesla's driverless car technology is being subjected to increased scrutiny because of the incidents of fatal crash that involved the Tesla Model S vehicle.
Tesla's position focused on its recent pronouncement that it has maintained that drivers should always be ready to take control of their self-driving vehicles. Tesla disputed Shashua's claim defending its technology by citing its own camera technology development.
Mobileye allegedly took an adversarial position after learning the news and even "attempted to force Tesla to discontinue this development, pay them more and use their products in future hardware," an unidentified Tesla spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Back in July, when Mobileye's contract with Tesla was not renewed, the carmaker stated that the supplier has failed to keep pace with the development of the company's products.
There is no immediate response from Shashua concerning the latest Tesla pronouncement. But a statement from Dan Galves, chief communications officer for Mobileye, was released to the LA Times.
"The reasons [Shashua] stated for the breakup are absolutely primarily the reason the relationship ended," he stressed. "Were there commercial issues going on at the time? Yes, but those probably shouldn't be discussed publicly."
The traded barbs have so far underscored an intensifying conflict in the high-stakes self-driving vehicle industry. Observers are closely watching developments as safety concerns could affect the viability of the driverless car in the future.
Photo: Marc van der Chijs | Flickr