iTesla: Elon Musk’s company poaches Apple engineer

11 Jan 2017

Tesla Model S. Image: Angelus_Svetlana/Shutterstock

A veteran of Apple, engineer Chris Lattner has left the tech giant to join Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company Tesla, ending an 11-year stint at his previous workplace.

Mere hours after Chris Lattner announced plans to leave Apple and “pursue an opportunity in another space”, the engineer, credited as an ‘open-source programming guru’ in parts, popped up at Tesla.

In a blog post by Elon Musk’s electric car company, Tesla welcomed Lattner, who is taking up his role as VP of the organisation’s Autopilot software.

Senior role

This software might ring a bell, as it’s the area that made headlines last year when a person died in a Model S after it hit a trailer while in autopilot mode.

With Lattner now taking a senior role, it means that Jinnah Hosein, SpaceX’s VP of software, no longer has to double-job.

“Chris’s reputation for engineering excellence is well known,” said Tesla, noting his work on Apple’s Swift programming language, a tool allowing developers to build products for the App Store.

Tesla is set for a busy 12 months, with global expansion continuing at pace and hundreds of thousands of car orders filed ahead of the company’s first ‘affordable’ product roll-out.

In March last year, just 24 hours after announcing, the Model 3 (at $35,000) was taking orders ahead of a late 2017 release. The number of those putting down deposits exceeded 232,000 worldwide.

At $1,000 per deposit, the company raised almost $250,000 on the back of one statement, with many more orders following.

Spread thin

Now the race is on to get the vehicles ready for shipping, not an easy task due to the company’s relatively light footprint across global markets.

Late last year, plans finally emerged for an Irish base, with the first of the Tesla-branded charging points appearing at the Powerscourt Hotel, Co Wicklow. The number of dedicated ‘destination charging points’ is expected to be in double figures soon.

Ireland isn’t alone, as a network of charge points and Tesla showing rooms are clearly a requirement throughout this year. To help with the actual software that will support the subsequent customers, Lattner was recruited.

“We are very excited that Chris is joining Tesla to lead our Autopilot engineering team and accelerate the future of autonomous driving,” said the company.

Tesla Model S. Image: Angelus_Svetlana/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic