Tesla and Mobileye Break Up

On an earnings call today, Mobileye announced that it will not be providing any more computer vision or sensing products to Tesla. This ends what had been perhaps the most prominent manufacturer-supplier relationship in the autonomous vehicle world.

Mobileye announced that it will move from focusing on driver assistance components to a focus on fully autonomous vehicle components. However, Mobileye CTO Amnon Shashua declined to state who broke up with who.

This is a huge surprise to me, although in hindsight there were some signs.

Immediately after the announcement of the first Tesla Autopilot fatality, Mobileye and Tesla issued conflicting statements about whether Tesla could have used Mobileye’s technology to prevent the crash. Mobileye said its products were not yet designed to handle that type of situation, whereas Tesla indicated the sensor data could be used to avoid future such accidents.

That was a surprising amount of daylight between two normally tight partners.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk also tweeted some positive statements about progress being made with Bosch, which is Tesla’s radar vendor. The absence of any such statements with Mobileye was conspicuous.

Finally, there have been on-again-off-again rumors about whether Tesla was looking for a different computer vision vendor for years.

Writing all that down, I’m thinking maybe this wasn’t such a shock after all.

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