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Tesla’s Director of Autopilot Programs departs as new VP takes helm

Sterling Anderson, Model X program manager turned Tesla’s Director of Autopilot Programs, has departed the Silicon Valley-based electric car maker after nearly three years of service. The news comes as Tesla announced that it has brought on 11-year Apple veteran Chris Lattner as the company’s newest Vice President of Autopilot Software.

Tesla has confirmed Anderson’s departure but did not provide additional detail. A look at Anderson’s LinkedIn profile and personal site shows that he left the company in December.

During his time at Tesla, Anderson was largely responsible for leading the charge in bringing Autopilot features up to the same standards as Google’s autonomous driving technology, through the use of fleet data. Speaking at the MIT Tech Review conference last year, Anderson explained how Tesla was able to download high resolution driving data from its fleet of vehicles and learn how drivers were reacting to new features being rolled out through the company’s over-the-air software updates.


Anderson once described Tesla’s Shadow Mode capability as something that does not take driving action on its own but will still allow engineers to see how a feature performs over millions of miles. “We will often install an ‘inert’ feature on all our vehicles worldwide,” said Anderson.

The addition of Lattner as Tesla’s Vice President of Autopilot Software will likely shake up the existing Autopilot team, especially as the company continues to push forward on the advancement of Enhanced Autopilot, and the eventual release of Full Self-Driving features.

Anderson made a cryptic “Your ain’t seen nothing yet…” tweet after Tesla’s announcement of Lattner today.

We’ve included a great TED Talk made by Anderson from 2015.

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