George Hotz’s claim that he built a driverless car in his garage has created a debate on Wall Street about the future for automotive technology suppliers such as Mobileye.
The 26-year-old hacker boasted in a Bloomberg Businessweek article that he developed a cheaper alternative to Mobileye technology used by Tesla Motors Inc. and that Elon Musk offered him a “multimillion-dollar bonus with a longer time horizon that pays out as soon as we discontinue Mobileye.” The revelation sent the stock down 7.2 percent that day and wiping out this year’s gains.
While Hotz’s exploits certainly highlight that the computing know-how for autonomous driving is becoming cheaper and more accessible, that doesn’t mean Mobileye’s business model is in trouble, according to research firm Gartner Inc. Mobileye has also locked in contracts with nearly all the top automakers from General Motors to Ford Motor Co.
Hotz’s achievement “demystifies the blackbox surrounding these technologies, and it will continue to increase the commoditization of the components,” Thilo Koslowski, vice president and automotive practice leader at Gartner, said by phone. “The magic still exists in putting it all together and doing it reliably.”