Tesla restructures Autopilot software team, Elon takes the reins

Tesla is again restructuring its Autopilot software team, in line with sources talking to Electrek.

CEO Elon Musk is taking the reins with now much more people reporting on to him and a few senior staff being let go while others being promoted.

Usually, Tesla is thought for having a high turnover rate, however it has been particularly true within the automaker’s Autopilot team.

The team went through several different leaders over the previous couple of years.

In 2016, Autopilot program Director Sterling Anderson left to create his own startup in the sector of automated driving.

Chris Lattner, a respected software developer behind Apple’s programing language, was hired to guide the Autopilot’s software team, but he only lasted about 6 months at Tesla.

Last yr, Tesla ended up hiring Stuart Bowers from Snap as the brand new Vice President of Autopilot software.

During that point, many other executives on the team ended up leaving as Tesla increasingly pushed for difficult timelines on driver assist features to guide to a totally autonomous driving system.

During the last yr, things appeared to have stabilized with Bowers in control of the software and Andrej Karpathy as the top of AI and Autopilot Vision.

They each gave presentations about Tesla’s progress in developing a full self-driving system throughout the automaker’s Investor Autonomy Day last month, but not every part went in line with plan.

Leading as much as the event and throughout the following days, Tesla fired several people within the Autopilot teams, in line with people accustomed to the matter.

A couple of weeks later, it has now led to a restructuring of the Autopilot software team.

In accordance with people accustomed to the matter talking to Electrek, Bowers saw several of his responsibilities being removed and folks under him have been promoted and are actually going to report on to Musk.

Amongst the people being promoted, Milan Kovac, a software engineer who held several positions on Tesla’s Autopilot team during the last 3 years, has been promoted to Director of Autopilot Software Engineering at Tesla.

Several other senior Autopilot engineers have been let go and others promoted as a part of this restructuring. We are going to update as more information becomes available.

We contacted Tesla for a comment concerning the restructuring and we’ll update if we get a solution.

Electrek’s Take

The turnover rate within the autonomous driving space is pretty high on the whole. The space is booming straight away and lots of firms are competing for talent with experience in the sector, which leads to many engineers going from one company to a different.

But whenever you consider the undeniable fact that working for Elon Musk is amazingly difficult and Tesla has been pushing some extremely aggressive timelines for Autopilot, it looks like Tesla’s Autopilot program is affected by a good more chaotic turnover.

On top of the three Autopilot heads mentioned above, Elon also brought in Robert Rose and Jinnah Hosein, two top software engineers formerly from SpaceX, to guide the Autopilot program between the tenures of the opposite Autopilot leaders.

Several senior Autopilot engineers have also left the team and are actually leading self-driving programs at other firms, like Sameer Qureshi at Lyft and Jamie Carlson at Nio.

Tesla is even suing Xpeng, an EV startup that hired several former Tesla Autopilot team members, for allegedly stealing the Autopilot source code.

The situation is worrying to a level, however it’s not all doom and gloom. The team still have many talented engineers working on Autopilot and so they keep delivering more advanced features.

But will they deliver full self-driving capability on Elon’s timeline? Unlikely in my view, but I’d wish to be proven flawed.

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