Driverless cars and autopilot modes in vehicles are becoming the focus of today's automakers and tech giants, but the safety of the technology is still up in the air. The recent spat between car safety expert Mobileye and electric car maker Tesla highlights the issue.
In an interview with Reuters, Mobileye Chairman Amnon Shashua stated that the design of Tesla's autopilot system was incomplete and did not sufficiently cover all possible scenarios a car could crash in a safe manner.
Mobileye severed its partnership with the leading electric car company, accusing the latter that its Autopilot driver-assistance system was flawed in ensuring driver and passenger safety.
Shashua is also Mobileye's chief technology officer and has its office in Israel. The firm is well known for its expertise in collision detection and driver assistance systems.
Tesla has been mired with countless criticisms over its apparent claim that its cars can run hands-free via autopilot. Tesla cars have been involved in several crashes in the U.S. and China. Investigations are possibly pointing to the autopilot mode of the car as the chief cause of the crash.
"No matter how you spin it, (Autopilot) is not designed for that. It is a driver assistance system and not a driverless system," Shashua said in an interview.
On Wednesday, a Tesla spokeswoman addressed the issue, saying that the company did not misinform users that the car's autopilot is the same as an autonomous technology which will turn the vehicle into a self-driving car that does not require the driver's attention while the vehicle is running on the road.
"Since the release of Autopilot, we've continuously educated customers on the use of the features, reminding them that they're responsible to keep their hands on the wheel and remain alert and present when using Autopilot. Drivers must be prepared to take control at all times," the spokeswoman said in a statement.
Fortune reported that Tesla will upgrade the software of the car's Autopilot system, increasing its warning systems so that drivers will keep their hands on the steering wheel and not abandon the control of the car to the vehicle's computer.