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Elon Musk shakes up Tesla Autopilot team after growing frustrated with the group’s progress

Published Jul 9th, 2019 9:03PM EDT

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While the Autopilot capability of Tesla vehicles has improved markedly over time, the Autopilot team responsible for delivering said capabilities has long seemed to be plagued by dysfunction. Going back to 2017, there were credible reports that the team was losing top engineers at a rapid clip. Even at the top, Tesla seemed unable to keep an Autopilot chief around for a meaningful period of time.

As a prime example, you may recall that former Apple engineer Chris Lattner left Apple to head up Tesla’s Autopilot team, only to leave the position a few months later. Indeed, it wasn’t all that long ago that Tesla’s Autopilot team saw a total of three different leaders in under two years. Suffice it to say, job stability doesn’t appear to be something one would associate with Tesla’s Autopilot team.

In light of all that, a new report from The Information reveals that Elon Musk remains displeased with some of the progress Tesla’s Autopilot team is making. Consequently, Musk has opted to shake up the Autopilot team, which is to say that some employees will be handed more responsibilities while others have been removed from the team entirely.

Over the past few months alone, upwards of 10% of Tesla’s Autopilot team have reportedly left.

The report notes:

Several key Tesla engineering managers working on its Autopilot semi-automated driving feature left the company after CEO Elon Musk told some employees he was unhappy with the progress in developing fully automated driving capabilities, according to one current and one former Tesla employee who have been involved in the effort. He is also upset that some team members have told him they can’t meet the timelines he has set for developing the technology, they said.

All in all, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given how ambitious Musk’s timeline is with respect to self-driving car technology. Indeed, Musk a few years ago promised that a Tesla would be able to drive from New York City to Los Angeles with zero human interaction, a feat that has obviously never even been undertaken.

Notably, the report notes that Musk remains particularly unhappy with progress as it pertains to getting the Autopilot feature to work well on crowded city streets.

That notwithstanding, Tesla’s Autopilot feature, for the most part, performs quite well on highways. The video below, for example, shows a Model 3 swerving out of harm’s way after getting rear-ended.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.