TECHNOLOGY

Tesla Autopilot head to step down after five years

Big loss to Autopilot development? Tesla AI and Autopilot leader Andrej Karpathy confirms he’s parted ways with the EV maker

The man who led the development of Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system has left the building.

Andrej Karpathy, Tesla’s Director of AI and the leader of the Autopilot Vision team, announced on Twitter that he had resigned. He revealed that he had no other job, leading to speculation as to whether his departure was voluntary.

However, CEO Elon Musk thanked Karpathy for his work. Still, most observers agree that Karpathy’s departure is a blow to Tesla’s Autopilot ambitions.

Image Credit: Tesla

Karpathy departure

It should be noted that Andrej Karpathy was named as one of the top ten ‘AI Influencers to Follow in 2022’ by Analytics Insight in March of this year.

“It has been a great pleasure to help Tesla achieve its goals for the past 5 years and it was a difficult decision to break up,” Karpathy wrote on Twitter. “During that time, Autopilot has graduated from lane keeping to city streets and I look forward to seeing the exceptionally strong Autopilot team continue that momentum.”

Karpathy tweeted that while he had no concrete plans for what’s next, he would spend more time visiting his longstanding passions around engineering work in AI, open source, and education.

Thank you for everything you have done for Tesla! It was an honor to work with you.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 13, 2022

Karpathy led a team of senior machine learning scientists and engineers, all reporting directly to Karpathy.

Are we ready for unmanned transport?

Office closure

Karpathy revealed on Twitter in March that he had taken a months-long sabbatical from Tesla, but appeared to be back at work in early May.

After almost 5 years at Tesla, taking some time off to rest and travel. Esp excited to get focused time to re-hone my tech edge and train some neural networks! Already missing all the robots and GPU/Dojo clusters and looking forward to having them back at my fingertips ❤️? https://t.co/R2Yidw9Yma

— Andrej Karpathy (@karpathy) March 27, 2022

Before Tesla, Karpathy served as a researcher at OpenAI, the nonprofit artificial intelligence organization founded in San Francisco in 2015 by Elon Musk, Sam Altman and others after they pledged $1 billion.

Karpathy’s departure follows the closure of a Tesla office in San Mateo, California, where data annotation teams helped improve the company’s driver assistance technology.

It was reported that 229 people were fired from that office.

However, Karpathy worked out of Tesla’s former headquarters in Palo Alto, California, reporting directly to Elon Musk.

Autopilot issues

It’s no secret that Tesla faces challenges with its Autopilot system, as well as its experimental self-driving package known as the “Full Self-Driving Beta System.”

Last month, the US Federal Vehicle Safety Authority (NHTSA) said it was upgrading its investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system — the step taken before the agency issues a recall.

Tesla vehicles have been responsible for nearly 70 percent of reported accidents involving advanced driver assistance systems since June 2021 federal figures released last monthbut officials warned against drawing any security conclusions.

Over hyped?

Musk has aggressively hyped Tesla’s driver assistance system (Autopilot) and self-driving technology for years.

CNBC reported: that Musk promised Tesla fans in late 2016 a self-driving car that could drive from Los Angeles to New York without “a single touch” by the end of 2017.

In 2019, Musk raised billions of dollars for Tesla by promising investors that the company would have 1 million “robotaxi-ready” cars on the road by the end of 2020.

In July 2020, Elon Musk said Tesla was “very close” to achieving level 5 autonomous driving technology.

Level 5 is the holy grail of autonomous driving technology, as level 5 vehicles do not require human intervention and the need for human drivers is eliminated.

It is even said that level 5 cars don’t even have steering wheels or accelerator/brake pedals.

These cars will be free of geofencing and can drive anywhere and do everything a normal car can do to a human driver.

Tesla cars are currently operating at level two, which requires the driver to remain alert and ready to act, with hands on the wheel.

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