Over the past few months, Tesla’s Autopilot division has been plagued with management exodus. One or the other executive from the team has been departing the electric automaker instead of rigorously building the self-driving capabilities of the vehicle. Today, Tesla has parted ways with its head of Autopilot software division, Chris Lattner, who had joined the company from Apple only six months ago.
Latter had been brought on-board to lead the development of the company’s software capabilities from Apple, after an eleven-year long stint at the Cupertino giant. He has been appointed as the VP of Autopilot Software, which seems like a particularly fitting job for a man of his caliber. He is credited as the individual responsible for the development of Apple’s Swift programming language as well as complimentary teaching apps.
Turns out that Tesla isn’t a good fit for me after all. I’m interested to hear about interesting roles for a seasoned engineering leader!
— Chris Lattner (@clattner_llvm) June 21, 2017
Following along the same lines, a Tesla spokesperson confirmed the departure saying:
Chris just wasn’t the right fit for Tesla, and we’ve decided to make a change. We wish him the best.
As for his responsibilities, they are currently being split between two individuals — the company’s Autopilot hardware division head Jim Keller and a newly hired deep learning expert named Andrej Karpathy. The latter is joining the team as the new head of AI and Autopilot Vision from OpenAI, the non-profit organization backed by Elon Musk and other Silicon Valley veterans.
Karpathy has extensively been involved with computer vision and deep learning technologies, having completed a Ph.D. at Stanford University in the said field. He is known to have created one of the most reputable deep learning courses taught at Stanford, and his computer vision dissertation is also related to real-time image processing efforts. This means his expertise of the technology could prove to an integral asset to Tesla’s Autopilot vision efforts, which will act as the base for the company’s future self-driving vehicles.
This development was first reported by TechCrunch. He will be working closely with Keller on further development of the Autopilot vision system. He reports directly to the chief executive, who is focused on building a robust autonomous suite ever since the exit of its long-running partner MobilEye, which is now owned by chipmaker Intel.
The two companies argued about who’s tech was to be held responsible for a recent crash and this soured the relationship between them. The two split and Tesla has since been rebuilding its own version of Autopilot software in-house, with additional capabilities. And Musk recently tweeted that he believes that the new Autopilot system was nearing the accuracy and quality it once had with the Mobileye’s technology.
Speaking on his appointment, a Tesla spokesperson in a statement said:
Andrej Karpathy, one of the world’s leading experts in computer vision and deep learning, is joining Tesla as Director of AI and Autopilot Vision, reporting directly to Elon Musk.
Andrej has worked to give computers vision through his work on ImageNet, as well as imagination through the development of generative models, and the ability to navigate the internet with reinforcement learning.
Earlier, the automaker had also parted ways with David Nistér, the Vice President of its Autopilot division. He had decided to join gaming hardware major Nvidia to lead its software efforts. He had closely been working on the upgradation process of the existing Autopilot 1.0 system to the more robust, powerful and much-awaited Autopilot 2.0, which has already started rolling out to all the new HW2 Tesla electric vehicles.