Top executive leaves Tesla’s Autopilot

A Tesla logo on a Model S is pictured inside a Tesla dealership in New York, U.S., April 29, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson//File Photo

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SAN FRANCISCO, July 13 (Reuters) – Andrej Karpathy, a Tesla executive who played a key role in developing artificial intelligence and driver assistance technology at the electric car maker, said on Wednesday that he left the company.

The departure of Karpathy, who has provided no reason to leave, comes at a critical time as Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk races to achieve full self-driving capability this year, after repeatedly missing the previous goals.

Credit Suisse analyst Dan Levy wrote in an investor note that Karpathy’s departure “perhaps reflects the challenges of Tesla’s progress in FSD/robotaxi.

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“We continue to view Tesla’s efforts in AV/robotaxi as ‘show me'”

Tesla shares fell 1% in extended trade to $704.

The departure of Karpathy, whose title was senior director of AI, came after Tesla announced on Tuesday that it was closing its office in San Mateo, Calif., as part of the company’s team developing the technology driving assistant “Autopilot”, and laid off more than 200 people there. . Read more

Karpathy, who worked out of the company’s Palo Alto office, led Tesla Autopilot’s computer vision team, overseeing efforts to train AI technology using data collected from Tesla vehicles on the road.

“It was a great pleasure to help Tesla achieve its goals over the past 5 years and a difficult decision to part ways,” Karpathy tweeted, adding that he had no concrete plans for what he would do. afterwards.

Musk replied in a tweet: “Thank you for all you have done for Tesla! It was an honor to work with you.”

Tesla’s driver-assist technology has made great strides during Karpathy’s tenure, though the technology hasn’t lived up to promises made by Musk, who said in 2019 that Tesla would launch driverless taxis by 2020. .

“I imagine there will be promotion from within to take up Karpathy’s position. It would not be easy to find someone from outside with Karpathy’s experience and knowledge,” said Raj Rajkumar, professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

Musk said in a podcast interview in January that Karpathy played an important role, but added, “People will give me too much credit and they will give Andrej too much credit.”

At the end of March, Karpathy said he was taking a four-month sabbatical to “resharpen my technical edge”.

He’s not the only Tesla executive to quit after taking a hiatus. In 2018, Doug Field, then director of engineering, joined Apple (AAPL.O) after taking time off to “recharge”. He is now at Ford (FN).

However, Karpathy’s departure surprised many people. “He’s as much of a workaholic as Elon is,” a former Autopilot team member told Reuters.

Tesla’s Autopilot technology is undergoing regulatory review. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating a series of crashes involving Tesla vehicles allegedly operating on autopilot.

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Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco Editing by Leslie Adler, Matthew Lewis and Noel Randewich

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