Tesla’s Autopilot Chief Leaves After Less Than Six Months On The Job
Tesla’s top Autopilot engineer, Chris Lattner, has left the company less than half a year after he joined the electric car maker from Apple. This adds to the growing list of executive shake-ups in technology firms competing in the driverless car space. Lattner cited differences with the chief executive of Tesla, Elon Musk, as the reason for his departure.
“In the end, Elon and I agreed that he and I did not work well together and that I should leave, so I did,” wrote Lattner in a resume update.
Lattner had joined Tesla earlier in the year after leaving Apple in January to replace Sterling Anderson who had left earlier. At Tesla Lattner was the Autopilot system vice president.To replace Chris Lattner at Tesla will be Jim Keller who will now be in charge of both Autopilot software and hardware. Before joining Tesla last year in January, Keller worked at Advanced Micro Devices. Keller has also had a stint at Apple.
Tesla will also be hiring Andrej Karpathy as the director of Autopilot Vision and artificial intelligence. Karpathy will be joining Tesla from OpenAI, a nonprofit venture focusing on artificial intelligence and which is backed Tesla’s CEO. After cutting ties with Mobileye NV last year in summer, Tesla is engaged in efforts to develop its own in-house image-sensing technology.
With regards to Autopilot, Tesla’s approach has been to offer driver-assistance features which are improved through software updates delivered over-the-air. The electric car maker has revealed that all vehicles coming out of Fremont plant in California have the hardware necessary to be fully autonomous in the future.
Tesla is not the only tech company in the autonomous car space that has had to grapple with staff turnover. Since August last year tech companies such as Waymo and Uber Technologies have all lost executives who were in charge of their driverless car efforts.
Just last month Uber terminated the services of Anthony Levandowski, its autonomous car senior executive, as the ride-hailing company engaged in a court battle with Waymo and in which a judge came to the conclusion that Levandowski stole confidential documents belonging to the self-driving car unit of Alphabet. At Waymo, an executive who led its autonomous car efforts for several years before quitting last year in August, Chris Urmson, let to team up with Tesla alum Sterling Anderson to run Aurora Innovation, a startup.