Tesla AI Boss Resigns Creating More Problems For Autopilot
Following a federal investigation into the latest Autopilot fatality in a Tesla Model S crash, the news doesn't get much better for the Texas-based carmaker. While every automaker will face challenges in the pursuit of different levels of driving autonomy, Tesla is either a struggling pioneer or is being mismanaged.
A top artificial intelligence executive Andrej Karpathy has just resigned after being on extended leave. This comes just after the Autopilot department suffered from a 200-person lay-off and can't be good for progress on the often criticized Full Self-Driving (FSD) tech.
"It's been a great pleasure to help Tesla towards its goals over the last five years and a difficult decision to part ways," the Senior Director of AI, Karpathy wrote. "Autopilot graduated from lane keeping to city streets and I look forward to seeing the exceptionally strong Autopilot team continue that momentum."
The technology has also relied heavily on camera-based FSD and Auto Pilot and now faces a potential conversion to a Radar-based system. Both Autopilot and FSD have been accused of "phantom braking" or worse, not recognizing semi-trucks as solid objects. Evidently, consumers and federal investigators want to get to the bottom of the problems. The dream of Tesla cars having full autonomous driving seems just a bit further away after this week.
Elon Musk announced earlier this year that Karpathy would be on a four-month sabbatical and even Karpathy himself indicated on social media he was looking forward to returning. However, a lot has happened at Tesla since this mini-vacay and at some point, Karpathy must have had a pause-and-reflect moment after resigning yesterday. Karpathy maintains the move is for personal pursuits of "long-term passions around technical work in AI, open source and education."
At present Tesla's FSD is becoming a harder sell at $12,000 and perhaps the Enhanced Autopilot (EAP) could make sense at $6,000. At the same time, the Tesla tech might be changing in new cars and there is a lot of criticism the current tech still isn't there yet. Now after losing a key exec and 200 vital employees, it is anyone's guess how Tesla will be approaching the autonomous driving question in the coming months.