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Tesla’s head of AI and autopilot quits after working with company for five years

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Tesla’s head of AI and autopilot quits after working with company for five years
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A senior executive in charge of AI and computer vision at Tesla’s Autopilot division has said he is leaving the company.

Andrej Karpathy on Wednesday elaborated on his plans in a series of tweets. “It’s been a great pleasure to help Tesla towards its goals over the last 5 years and a difficult decision to part ways,” he said.

“Autopilot graduated from lane keeping to city streets,” the senior executive said about his time with the company, adding that he will look forward to “seeing the exceptionally strong Autopilot team continue that momentum”.

“I have no concrete plans for what’s next but look to spend more time revisiting my long-term passions around technical work in AI, open source and education,” he said.

Tesla chief Elon Musk replied to Mr Karpathy’s tweets, thanking him for his contributions to the company.

“Thanks for everything you have done for Tesla! It has been an honor working with you,” Mr Musk said.

Mr Karpathy joined Tesla in 2017 after working for over a year with OpenAI, an organisation cofounded by Mr Musk.

At Tesla, his Autopilot team worked on data gathering and neural network training to deploy self-driving features in the rapidly growing fleet of Tesla’s millions of cars, according to the senior executive’s LinkedIn profile page.

As self-driving systems are becoming more prevalent in vehicles across the world, safety regulators, including those in the US, have also been examining their safety record.

There were 392 accidents involving self-driving technologies, showed a large-scale data analysis by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) between 1 July 2021 and 15 May this year.

Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self Driving mode – or at least a component of its self-driving tech – was active in 273 of these crashes.

The electric vehicle manufacturer’s self-driving technology was already facing scrutiny from the NHTSA before these findings were released.

Tesla’s Autopilot driver assist software is also under investigation after its vehicles using Autopilot crashed into parked emergency vehicles.

Mr Karpathy’s announcement that he will leave the company also comes in the wake of Tesla laying off nearly 200 workers in its autopilot division, shutting down its office in San Mateo, California, where they worked.

Most of the laid off employees were reportedly hourly workers and many were data annotation specialists.

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