Tesla’s head of AI departs after five years with Autopilot team

14 Jul 2022

Image: © Valeriya Zankovych/Stock.adobe.com

Andrej Karpathy’s departure will be a loss to the Tesla Autopilot team as it works towards self-driving cars.

Tesla is losing its senior director of AI, Andrej Karpathy, as he announced yesterday (13 July) that he is leaving the company.

Karpathy worked with the US-headquartered electric vehicle maker for five years and played a key role in the development of its tech. He led a team of senior machine learning scientists and engineers working on Autopilot, the company’s driver-assist features.

He said in a tweet that it was a “difficult decision to part ways” with the company and that it had been “a great pleasure to help Tesla towards its goals”.

In the five years he spent at the company, he said that Tesla’s Autopilot technology “graduated from lane keeping to city streets.”

Karpathy’s departure will be a loss to the Autopilot team as it works towards its goal of complete self-driving capabilities. This technology has faced plenty of scrutiny, however.

In response to Karpathy’s announcement, Tesla CEO Elon Musk wished him well. “Thanks for everything you have done for Tesla! It has been an honour working with you,” he tweeted.

Karpathy did not elaborate on what his next role would be. “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 wrote on Twitter.

The AI leader had recently taken a lengthy sabbatical from his work at Tesla.

News of his departure comes after Tesla recently closed its office in San Mateo, California. This has reportedly led to the dismissal of around 200 employees working on the Autopilot driver-assistance technology.

The electric car maker is not the only tech company to lose one of its high-profile AI leaders. In May, Apple lost its head of machine learning, Ian Goodfellow, reportedly over the company’s return-to-office policy.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic