Tesla Autopilot Safety Row Escalates

Tesla and its former business partner MobilEye have traded more angry remarks over the safety of the electric vehicle’s Autopilot system.

MobilEye executive Amnon Shashua had said the carmaker had “pushed the envelope” on safety in a bid to extend its reach.

Tesla said MobilEye had tried to stop it working on its own system.

Autopilot has been under scrutiny since a fatal crash in May caused by the technology missing a lorry.

The two had worked on the system together but stopped the partnership in July.

“Tesla has been developing its own vision capability in-house for some time with the goal of accelerating performance improvements.

“After learning that Tesla would be deploying this product, MobilEye attempted to force Tesla to discontinue this development, pay them more, and use their products in future hardware,” said a Tesla spokeswoman.

“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.”

She also reiterated that the Autopilot feature is not supposed to replace the vehicle’s human driver.

“At no time has Tesla ever said or implied that Autopilot makes a car autonomous or ‘self-driving’ any more than autopilot on a plane, after which it is named, makes a plane self-flying,” she said.


MobilEye has now issued a further statement challenging Tesla’s latest response.

It said it had “little knowledge” of Tesla’s in-house product.

“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,” it said.

It said the two firms had clashed over whether to enable Autopilot to have a “hands-free” function, with an exchange of emails taking place in May 2015.

“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,” the statement reads.

Last Sunday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a series of new safety changes which included Autopilot repeatedly telling drivers to keep their hands on the wheel.

If they refuse, the system will switch off until the car is parked.

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