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Tesla parts ways with chipmaker behind its Autopilot system

The company will most likely start building its image recognition hardware internally.
Andrew Dalton, @dolftown
July 26, 2016
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REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

In the wake of a fatal Tesla Model S Autopilot accident in Florida, the all-electric automaker has announced it is parting ways with Mobileye, the company behind the image recognition hardware that powers the semi-autonomous system. As Recode reports today, Tesla will most likely be moving forward by building its own computer vision chips in-house.

In a quarterly earnings call, Mobileye CTO Ammon Sashua explained his company will continue to support Tesla's current products, including "a significant upgrade of several functions that affect both the ability to respond to crash avoidance and to optimize auto-steering in the near term." In the future, however, Mobileye will be working directly with manufacturers rather than providing an OEM solution.

At a Gigafactory event, when asked about the companies parting ways, CEO Elon Musk said, "Us parting ways was somewhat inevitable. There was nothing unexpected from our standpoint."

Earlier, DIY self-driving expert George Hotz also told Recode the Mobileye system "is so easy to reproduce" that Elon Musk and company shouldn't have trouble building their own version. And it's likely that the right talent is already there at Tesla's headquarters in Palo Alto -- in January, the company hired former AMD chip engineer Jim Keller to lead Autopilot's hardware engineering team. In the meantime, the company is continuing to educate drivers about the current limitations of the Autopilot system.

This post has been updated with comment from Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

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