Tesla and autonomous tech firm Mobileye end partnership

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Tesla Autopilot suite of features  -  with version 7.0 update

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Technology firm Mobileye, which worked closely with Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] to develop the semi-autonomous Autopilot system that debuted on the Model S, has confirmed its partnership with the automaker is over.

The information was confirmed by Mobileye co-founder Amnon Shashua during a conference call on Tuesday discussing the company’s second-quarter financial results.

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Shashua said Mobileye won’t be offering the next-generation version of its EyeQ system to Tesla but will continue to support the existing system used by the automaker. EyeQ is a computer chip loaded with proprietary image processing algorithms used for autonomous driving systems. The current version of the system is EyeQ3.

“Moving forward to full autonomy Level 3, Level 4 autonomy, we think that that's not in the interest of Mobileye to continue with Tesla in that area,” Shashua said in the call.

Mobileye seeks more exclusive relationship

Shashua didn’t give an exact reason why the partnership ended but hinted that the development of high-level autonomous driving technology will require more exclusive partnerships to ensure its safety. Recall on May 7 there was a death of a driver in a Model S that crashed while in Autopilot mode.

“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,” Shashua said. “Mobileye believes that achieving this objective requires partnerships that go beyond the typical OEM/supplier relationship.”

Mobileye on July 5 announced such a relationship with BMW. Working also with Intel, BMW and Mobileye hope to get a fully autonomous car on the market by 2021. The firms also hope to establish an open platform for autonomous driving technology that could be made available to other firms and thus align the industry on a standards-based platform to quickly bring autonomous cars to market.

Tesla will likely develop a replacement for the Mobileye technology in-house. The company recently hired former Advanced Micro Devices chip engineer Jim Keller to work on its Autopilot team. In addition, many firms are looking past camera-based autonomous driving technology due to shortcomings like poor performance in severe weather. Instead, expect them to focus on sensor-based systems as well as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-object (V2X) communications going forward.

 
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