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Tesla’s Autopilot Head Leaves Only Six Months After Joining From Apple

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Tesla has parted ways with another senior leader on its self-driving technology team, adding more turmoil to a program that is under pressure to meet the grand ambitions of chief executive Elon Musk.

The Silicon Valley electric-car maker said Chris Lattner, the vice president of Autopilot software, has left the company about six months after Tesla hired him away from Apple.

“Turns out that Tesla isn’t a good fit for me after all,” he tweeted recently. “I’m interested to hear about interesting roles for a seasoned engineering leader!”

The company had high hopes for Lattner, lauding his “reputation for engineering excellence,” but the relationship wasn’t meant to be. “Chris just wasn’t the right fit for Tesla, and we’ve decided to make a change. We wish him the best,” Tesla said in a statement.

It’s not new for Musk to move high-level employees between his companies and it even happened with the Autopilot team before, like when Robert Rose, a former software director at SpaceX, ended up briefly leading the Autopilot team before the launch of version 7.0.

According to a report from The Verge, the new hire is Andrej Karpathy, taking over as new head of AI and Autopilot Vision. The scientist, who most recently was a research scientist at Elon Musk’s OpenAI, is being described as “one of the world’s leading experts in computer vision and deep learning.

In his new role as Director of AI and Autopilot Vision, Karpathy will report to Musk directly, but he will also work closely in concert with Tesla’s Jim Keller, who previously led Tesla’s Autopilot hardware division but who now oversees both hardware and software for the automaker’s vehicle automated driver assistance features.

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