Intel Slams Nvidia for Self-Driving 'Imitation'

Credit: Alexander Tolstykh / ShutterstockCredit: Alexander Tolstykh / ShutterstockYesterday we compared Intel's legal dispute with a former engineering manager to a bad breakup. It seems like the company's ire won't be limited to former employees, though, because it also published the corporate newsroom equivalent to a mic drop on Nvidia for allegedly copying its self-driving tech.

The dismissive note (dis-missive?) was published by Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua on March 25. It starts with the back-patting of Mobileye's accomplishments standard to many company press releases. But then Shashua hits us with a paragraph about "one industry player in particular" that "habitually follows our lead." Then he actually calls out Nvidia by name.

At issue is Shashua's belief that the Safety Force Field (SFF) technology Nvidia announced last week has "uncanny similarities" to the Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) tech Mobileye revealed in 2017. At the highest level, both systems are supposed to make autonomous cars safer both for their drivers and for the people around them.

The particulars don't matter. What matters is that Intel actually let Shashua write this paragraph:

"If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Nvidia must think very highly of us. Based on the information that has been made available, it is clear Nvidia's leaders have continued their pattern of imitation as their so-called 'first-of-its-kind' safety concept is a close replica of the RSS model we published nearly two years ago. In our opinion, SFF is simply an inferior version of RSS dressed in green and black. To the extent there is any innovation there, it appears to be primarily of the linguistic variety."

Shashua then provides a point-by-point explanation of how SFF resembles RSS. Seriously, there's a huge comparison embedded in the post, and the full PDF is available here. The fact that Intel even had to include a "Click for full PDF chart" link in the post shows that Shashua isn't messing around. (And that Intel doesn't mind picking a fight.)

We can't speak to the veracity of Shashua's claims--we aren't self-driving experts and probably wouldn't be able to spot any minor-but-vital distinctions between SFF and RSS. But the publication of this note shows that Intel is confident in Shashua's assertions, especially since it ends with this:

"At Mobileye, we believe in technology innovation, not linguistic innovation. We have openly invited and are enjoying active collaboration with industry and government partners around the globe. It is unfortunate that rather than collaborate with us, Nvidia felt it necessary to follow us yet again, creating confusion where there could have been cohesion. Mobileye has invested enormous resources to develop RSS, and Mobileye has obtained intellectual property rights to protect these investments."

Those are fightin' words. Let's see if Nvidia responds. Jensen Huang might have the penchant for leather jackets, but if we're judging rebel status off the willingness to publicly trash-talk competitors, right now the advantage has to go to Shashua.