Tesla replaces head of Autopilot with OpenAI’s neural net researcher

Tesla has replaced its Vice President of Autopilot Software Chris Lattner with Andrej Karpathy who will serve as the company’s new Director of AI and Autopilot Vision.

Lattner, a former 11-year Apple veteran who joined Tesla less than six months ago has departed the company, citing that the role was not a good fit him. “Turns out that Tesla isn’t a good fit for me after all. I’m interested to hear about interesting roles for a seasoned engineering leader!” says Lattner through his Twitter account. A Tesla spokesperson echoed the sentiment, telling Teslarati that “Chris just wasn’t the right fit for Tesla, and we’ve decided to make a change.”

Karpathy, who prior to joining Tesla worked at Google’s DeepMind and was a respected research scientist at Musk’s artificial intelligence OpenAI nonprofit, has extensive experience training neural networks and working with deep learning AI. “I like to train Deep Neural Nets on large datasets.” reads Karpathy’s Twitter profile.

In his new role as Tesla Director of AI and Autopilot Vision, Karpathy will report directly to Tesla chief Elon Musk, and work closely with chip expert and Vice President of Autopilot Hardware Jim Keller on advancing Tesla’s self-driving technology.

Tesla released the following statement regarding the hiring of Karpathy:

Andrej Karpathy, one of the world’s leading experts in computer vision and deep learning, is joining Tesla as Director of AI and Autopilot Vision, reporting directly to Elon Musk. Andrej has worked to give computers vision through his work on ImageNet, as well as imagination through the development of generative models, and the ability to navigate the internet with reinforcement learning. He was most recently a Research Scientist at OpenAI.

Andrej completed his computer vision PhD at Stanford University, where he demonstrated the ability to derive complex descriptions of images using a deep neural net. For example, identifying not simply that there is a cat in a given picture, but that it is an orange, spotted cat, riding on a skateboard with red wheels on brown hardwood flooring (http://cs.stanford.edu/people/karpathy/main.pdf). He also created and taught “Convolutional Neural Networks for Visual Recognition,” the first and still leading deep learning course at Stanford.

Andrej will work closely with Jim Keller, who now has overall responsibility for Autopilot hardware and software.

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