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Tesla Autopilot partner Mobileye comments on fatal crash, says tech isn’t meant to avoid this type of accident [Updated]


Mobileye, an Israel-based tech company developing some of the technology behind Tesla’s Autopilot, commented on the fatal Model S crash reported yesterday. A spokesperson said that the company’s current Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) system is only meant for rear-end collision avoidance and since the crash was front (of the Model S) to side (of a truck), the system was not designed to avoid it.

Dan Galves, Mobileye’s Chief Communications Officer, issued the following statement:

“We have read the account of what happened in this case. Today’s collision avoidance technology, or Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) is defined as rear-end collision avoidance, and is designed specifically for that. This incident involved a laterally crossing vehicle, which current-generation AEB systems are not designed to actuate upon. Mobileye systems will include Lateral Turn Across Path (LTAP) detection capabilities beginning in 2018, and the Euro NCAP safety ratings will include this beginning in 2020.”

It has never been clear exactly what parts of the Autopilot is built by Tesla and Mobileye, other than the Israel-based company’s EyeQ chip, which Tesla confirmed using for the Autopilot. The automaker also builds its own system on top of Mobileye’s technology, according to CEO Ziv Aviram.

Update: Tesla sent us the following statement in response to Mobileye’s statement:

“Tesla’s autopilot system was designed in-house and uses a fusion of dozens of internally- and externally-developed component technologies to determine the proper course of action in a given scenario. Since January 2016, Autopilot activates automatic emergency braking in response to any interruption of the ground plane in the path of the vehicle that cross-checks against a consistent radar signature. In the case of this accident, the high, white side of the box truck, combined with a radar signature that would have looked very similar to an overhead sign, caused automatic braking not to fire.”

Last year, Tesla committed to keep using the firm’s technology in future iterations of its Autopilot programs following allegations that the company was looking to discontinue Mobileye’s system after Tesla CEO Elon Musk offered a multi-million dollar bonus to George Hotz if he could build a better self-driving platform.

Then earlier this year, Musk was reportedly seen visiting Mobileye’s Israel operations for a “demonstration of several breakthrough developments by Mobileye in [automated driving technology] installed on a trial Tesla Model S vehicle.”

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