Tesla (TSLA) Says Mobileye (MBLY) Statements Are 'Inaccurate'; Says Mobileye Was Forcing Them to End In-House Development, Pay More

September 16, 2016 9:12 AM EDT

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Following their nasty break-up, Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) and Mobileye (NYSE: MBLY) continue to go at it. Tesla issued a response to comments from Mobileye CTO that Tesla was "pushing the envelope in terms of safety." Tesla said these statements are inaccurate, saying the relationship ended because Mobileye was trying to force their hand to discounting developing of their in-house system, pay them more, and use their products in future hardware.

Below is the full Tesla response:

Recent statements made by MobilEye about Tesla Autopilot are inaccurate.

Here are the facts:

MobilEye had knowledge of and collaboration with Tesla on Autopilot functionality for the past 3 years.

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.

In late July when it became apparent to MobilEye that Tesla planned to use its own vision software in future Autopilot platforms, MobilEye made several demands of Tesla in exchange for continuing supply of first generation hardware, including:

  • Raising the price of their product retroactively
  • Demanding an agreement to extremely unfavorable terms of sale and
  • Demanding that Tesla not use data that was collected by its vehicles’ cameras for any purpose other than helping MobilEye develop its products
  • Requiring that Tesla collaborate on Tesla Vision and source future vision processing from them until at least level 4

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.

While Tesla’s Autopilot has received more attention in the press as arguably one of the most refined such implementations on the road*, its feature set and hands-on requirements are very similar to other such systems, many of which use MobilEye vision products. In its current form, Autopilot is an advanced driver assistance system that maintains lane positioning while adjusting vehicle speed in the context of surrounding traffic. 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. Any third-party descriptions to this effect are not accurate.

Since the release of Autopilot, we’ve continuously educated customers on the use of these features, reminding them that they’re responsible to keep their hands on the wheel and remain alert and present when using Autopilot. The Autosteer feature is off by default and must be enabled through the “Driver Assistance” tab in vehicle settings, where the user must agree to a dialogue box describing the system as “Beta” (to reduce complacency) and instructing them to pay attention to the road at all times. Every time the feature is subsequently activated, the user is reminded of this agreement with both visual and audible alerts. Failure to comply results in a rapidly-escalating sequence of audible and visual alerts, followed by deactivation of the Autosteer feature.

*Independent studies of Autopilot performance relative to similar Level 2 systems

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