Software Maker Says Tesla Ignored Its Concerns Over “Hands-Free”

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DALLAS (CBS/DFW.COM) – The former manufacturer of Tesla’s camera technology says Tesla ignored its concerns over rolling out a “hands-free” feature.

The most recent known autopilot accident involving Tesla’s autopilot happened right here in North Texas just last month as a car owner says his Tesla drove him straight into the guardrail at 80-miles an hour in Kaufman.

But the most well-known autopilot crash was in May when a Tesla driver was killed in Florida.

Since then Tesla and Mobileye of Israel, which makes the cameras, have been pointing fingers over what went wrong.

Today, Mobileye released a statement saying, in part, it told Tesla more than a year ago that “Autopilot should not be allowed to operate hands-free without proper and substantial technological restrictions and limitations.”

This all sounded very similar to what the driver of the accident here, Mark Molthan, told the I-Team in late August.

“The company is pushing the envelope, but maybe they are pushing it a little too fast. Let’s slow it down…” said Molthan.

At the time, Tesla stressed to the I-Team it has never marketed the cars as “self-driving” or “hands free;” however, three weeks ago, with our undercover cameras rolling, a sales representative inside a Tesla store told us you could look down long enough to read a text or send an email.

Today, Tesla responded to the newest allegations saying, in part, “Recent statements made by Mobileye are inaccurate.”

Tesla says Mobileye became disgruntled after learning that Tesla would soon be using its own camera system, rather than Mobileye’s, in future cars.

To read Tesla and Mobileye’s statements in full, see below.

 

Tesla’s statement:

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

  • Car & Driver: ~2x better than the next closest competitor (29 interventions vs. 56 for the BMW 7-Series)
  • Autofill: ~10x better than the next closest comparison (3 interventions on the Model S vs. 31 for the E-Class)
  • Motor Trend: 6-9x better than the next best system (12 interventions for the Model S vs. 113 for the S-Class)
  • The Drive: “Without a doubt, [Autopilot] is the best ADAS system on the market.”

 

Mobileye’s Press Release:

JERUSALEM, Sept. 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — (NYSE: MBLY) – In response to inquiries received this morning, Mobileye N.V. notes that the allegations recently attributed to a spokesperson for Tesla regarding Mobileye’s position in respect of Tesla internal computer visions efforts are incorrect and can be refuted by the facts.

It has long been Mobileye’s position that Tesla’s Autopilot should not be allowed to operate hands-free without proper and substantial technological restrictions and limitations.  In communications dating back to May 2015 between Mobileye Chairman and Tesla’s CEO, Mobileye expressed safety concerns regarding the use of Autopilot hands-free.  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.  Mobileye has made substantial efforts since then to take more control on how this project can be steered to a proper functional safety system.

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.  Failing agreement on necessary changes in the relationship, Mobileye terminated its association with Tesla.  As for Tesla’s claim that Mobileye was threatened by Tesla’s internal computer vision efforts, the company has little knowledge of these efforts other than an awareness that Tesla had put together a small team.

In any event, it is Mobileye’s policy not to respond to rumors or other spurious claims in the press.  Mobileye has commented fully on its relationship with Tesla and will not provide further comment.  Mobileye’s deeply held view is that the long-term potential for vehicle automation to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities significantly is too important to risk consumer and regulatory confusion or to create an environment of mistrust that puts in jeopardy technological advances that can save lives.

About Mobileye –

Mobileye N.V. is the global leader in the development of computer vision and machine learning, data analysis, localization and mapping for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and autonomous driving. The Company’s technology keeps passengers safer on the roads, reduces the risks of traffic accidents, saves lives and has the potential to revolutionize the driving experience by enabling autonomous driving. The Company’s proprietary software algorithms and EyeQ® chips perform detailed interpretations of the visual field in order to anticipate possible collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, animals, debris and other obstacles. The Company’s products are also able to detect roadway markings such as lanes, road boundaries, barriers and similar items; identify and read traffic signs, directional signs and traffic lights; create a Roadbookâ„¢ of localized drivable paths and visual landmarks using REMâ„¢; and provide mapping for autonomous driving. The Company’s products are or will be integrated into car models from 25 global automakers. The Company’s products are also available in the aftermarket.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements.  Words such as “believes,” “intends,” “expects,” “projects,” “anticipates,” and “future” or similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements.  These statements are only predictions based on the Company’s current expectations and projections about future events.  You should not place undue reliance on these statements.  Many factors may cause the Company’s actual results to differ materially from any forward-looking statement, including the risk factors and other matters set forth in the Company’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2015.  The Company undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by law.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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