Tesla is parting ways with Mobileye, one of the top suppliers to its Autopilot partial self-driving system, in the wake of the May accident that killed an owner of one of its electric Model S sedans.
Mobileye is considered a leader in developing the equipment that will be needed for fully self-driving cars.
The Israeli tech company will continue to support and maintain current Tesla products, including upgrades that should help the Autopilot system with crash avoidance and to better allow the car steer itself, said Chairman Amnon Shashua in releasing the company's second-quarter earnings Tuesday.
Shashua said moving cars to higher levels of self-driving capability "is a paradigm shift both in terms of function complexity and the need to ensure an extremely high level of safety." He added there is "much at stake" in terms of Mobileye's reputation, and that's it is best to end the relationship with Tesla by the end of the year. He didn't elaborate.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, meeting with reporters at the company's new
batteryGigafactory outside Reno, Nev., indicated that Tesla can go forward without Mobileye.
“Us parting ways was somewhat inevitable. There’s nothing unexpected here from our standpoint," Musk said. "We’re committed to autonomy. They’ll go their way and we’ll go ours."
The parting of the two companies follows the accident that killed an Ohio man, Joshua Brown, on a Florida highway. He was reportedly driving his car with the Autopilot self-driving function engaged when a truck turned in front of him. His Tesla Model S electric sedan struck the truck, killing him.
Mobileye issued a statement after the crash saying its system is not designed to detect cross traffic yet. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration andNational Transportation Safety Board are both investigating the accident.
Autopilot is Tesla's name for a system designed to keep cars in their lane and to speed the car up or slow it down in heavy traffic. But Tesla insists it has repeatedly told owners that it is no substitute for staying attentive behind the wheel.
In releasing a new master plan for the company last week, Musk said that self-driving capability remains a key goal for Tesla.
Contributing: Marco della Cava / first published in USA today
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