A senior executive at Tesla’s autopilot division announced he is leaving the company amid increasing scrutiny of the electric-car company’s self-driving vehicles.
Andrej Karpathy, head of artificial intelligence and computer vision, announced his decision Wednesday on Twitter, thanking his autopilot-division team members and praising the advances they have made in AI and open-source education.
“It’s been a great pleasure to help Tesla towards its goals over the last 5 years and a difficult decision to part ways. In that time, Autopilot graduated from lane keeping to city streets and I look forward to seeing the exceptionally strong Autopilot team continue that momentum,” he wrote.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk chimed in to congratulate Mr. Karpathy on taking the next step in his career.
“Thanks for everything you have done for Tesla! It has been an honor working with you,” Mr. Musk replied on Twitter.
It’s been a great pleasure to help Tesla towards its goals over the last 5 years and a difficult decision to part ways. In that time, Autopilot graduated from lane keeping to city streets and I look forward to seeing the exceptionally strong Autopilot team continue that momentum.
— Andrej Karpathy (@karpathy) July 13, 2022
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Mr. Karpathy joined Tesla in 2017 and during his tenure, the autopilot team worked to expand the implementation of autopilot technology in Tesla’s cars, which have since exploded in popularity.
Mr. Karpathy’s departure from Tesla comes as the company is facing increasing scrutiny concerning its autonomous vehicles. Since 2021, Tesla’s self-driving cars have been involved in 273 of the 392 automated-car collisions in the U.S.
Tesla’s self-driving technology has also come under fire from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The administration found in an investigation of crashes involving Tesla’s automated-drive cars that the autopilot mode, on average, was only deactivated less than a second before collision. The accident survey also said that automatic emergency braking only occurred in half of the cases.
The New York Times also produced an episode of “New York Times Presents” that questioned Tesla’s work culture and Mr. Musk’s own claims about self-driving technology.
Several former Tesla employees implied that the autopilot technology was not necessarily ready for public use when it was initially released.
Mr. Karpathy’s exit comes when Tesla has been making cuts in its autopilot division. Most recently, 200 workers in the San Mateo, California, autopilot division were laid off after the office was shut down.
Mr. Musk has said in the past that some of his decisions to downsize come from a “very bad” feeling about the economy.