TECH: Mobileye and Tesla Part Ways in Wake of AutoPilot Concerns

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Tesla is facing criticism for its autonomous safety technology with several accidents and one fatality while AutoPilot was in use. The incidents are under investigation, but regardless of the outcome, it creates a sense of distrust for that technology. In the wake of the controversy, driving-assistance chip and software supplier Mobileye and Tesla are parting ways.

Mobileye makes a system called EyeQ and it’s found in most cars with autonomous technology that are on today’s roads. That technology is a key component in Tesla’s AutoPilot system, which Mobileye CTO Amnon Shashua spoke about at CES earlier this year.

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That was back in January, before AutoPilot was in the news for all the wrong reasons. The company has just announced that they won’t be continuing their partnership with Tesla, although they will still support current vehicles and issue any necessary software updates.

According to ArsTechnica, Mobileye said, “Nevertheless, in our view, moving toward more advanced autonomy is a paradigm shift both in terms of function complexity and the need to ensure an extremely high level of safety. There is much at stake here, to Mobileye’s reputation and to the industry at large. Mobileye believes that achieving this objective requires partnerships that go beyond the typical OEM / supplier relationship, such as our recently announced collaboration with BMW and Intel. Mobileye will continue to pursue similar such relationships.”

Although they’re not saying the partnership with Tesla is over because of safety concerns with AutoPilot, it looks a lot like that’s what’s going on behind the scenes. Neither company has said which party initiated the break.

The news didn’t sit well with investors as Mobileye shares were down 13 percent in early trading and ended the day overall down 8 percent after the news broke. The question now is what will Tesla do for autonomous technology with its future products?

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The loss may turn out to be a bigger problem for Mobileye than Tesla, despite their dominance in the market. Tesla’s stock didn’t react nearly as strongly, showing there’s confidence they’ve got a plan.

That plan could involve Tesla building their own sensors. There’s no reason they need to rely on an outside source, it’s simply the way things have been done. If there’s one thing Tesla has proved, it’s that they’re not afraid to do thing differently. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has no qualms about bucking the system.

Tesla hasn’t announced how they’re moving forward, but it’s a sure bet they’ll continue to pursue autonomous technology even without an outside supplier.