Tesla's Autopilot boss Jim Keller leaves the company

Alfred Osborne
April 26, 2018

Tesla will have to forge ahead without the help of Jim Keller, a former AMD chip architect who joined the automobile company in 2015 to spearhead the development of custom AI silicon, among other tasks. Keller worked on chips found in early models of the iPhone and iPad.

Keller will join Intel Corp, the Wall Street Journal detailed, referring to sources.

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This is the third major shakeup in Tesla's Autopilot team in just over a year - Jim took over from predecessor Chris Lattner only in June 2017, while Autopilot Program Director Sterling Anderson quit in January this year to set up his own self-driving auto company. Multiple reports state he's heading to AMD nemesis Intel (intc), where he will work alongside another former AMD exec, Raja Koduri. Tesla very quietly hired Keller from AMD in 2016 after he was finished with the Ryzen architecture. The National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are investigating.

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"Prior to joining Tesla, Jim's core passion was microprocessor engineering and he's now joining a company where he'll be able to once again focus on this exclusively", a Tesla spokeswoman told this news organization Thursday. Andrej Karpathy will be responsible for software, and Pete Bannon, formerly of Apple, will be in charge of hardware. "We appreciate his contributions to Tesla and wish him the best", a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement. Meanwhile, Tesla Director of AI and Autopilot Vision will have "overall responsibility" for Autopilot software, Tesla said.

"Jim is one of the most respected microarchitecture design visionaries in the industry, and the latest example of top technical talent to join Intel", said Dr. Murthy Renduchintala, Intel's chief engineering officer and group president of the Technology, Systems Architecture & Client Group (TSCG).

The NTSB has three pending tests into Tesla crashes.

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