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Mobileye criticizes design of Tesla Autopilot, says company ‘pushed the envelope on safety’

Tesla Autopilot in 'Shadow Mode' will pit human vs computer

Mobileye chief technical officer Amnon Shashua spoke out on Wednesday criticizing Tesla for “pushing the envelope in terms of safety” with the design of its driver-assist Autopilot system. The rare comment comes after Tesla severed ties with the Israeli technology company this past summer over, what many believe to be, a strained relationship following Joshua Brown’s death behind the wheel of a Model S that was driving on Autopilot. Mobileye supplies the EyeQ3 technology used in Tesla’s Autopilot system.

Though neither company has publicly stated the main reason for the separation, comments made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the Gigafactory press event revealed that the companies may not have been aligned in terms of their visions for self-driving cars. “Certainly we’re going to do full autonomy of our cars. They’ll go their path and we’ll go ours. Us parting ways was somewhat inevitable. So there was nothing surprising from our standpoint.”, said Musk.

According to Reuters, Sashua said in an interview today that Tesla Autopilot is “not designed to cover all possible crash situations in a safe manner. No matter how you spin it, (Autopilot) is not designed for that. It is a driver assistance system and not a driverless system,”.

Tesla responded by saying that the company never considered Autopilot a driverless system. “Since the release of Autopilot, we’ve continuously educated customers on the use of the features, reminding them that they’re responsible to keep their hands on the wheel and remain alert and present when using Autopilot,” said a Tesla spokesperson. “Drivers must be prepared to take control at all times.”

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Version 7 of Tesla Autopilot was released via the company’s over-the-air software update

Mobileye’s criticism of Tesla comes three days after the Silicon Valley automaker announced that it will be releasing an upgraded Version 8 of Autopilot that was refined in conjunction with Bosch who manufacturers the radar hardware found on the Model S and Model X. The strengthened partnership with Bosch will allow Tesla to have a finer level of control of the radar, through updated device drivers, and allow Autopilot to see two cars ahead while providing three times the level of safety than the current Autopilot system powered by Mobileye.

Despite the touted benefits of Version 8, Sashua believes that Tesla risks hurting the industry by sending the wrong message when boasting of Autopilot’s capabilities yet warns drivers to keep both hands on the wheel. “Long term this is going to hurt the interests of the company and hurt the interests of an entire industry, if a company of our reputation will continue to be associated with this type of pushing the envelope in terms of safety,” he said.

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