Elon Musk’s Tesla has banked heavily on its autopilot feature — now the company’s self-driving ambitions reportedly face a major setback as 10 percent of the Tesla software team resigns.
Silicon Valley news site the Information reports that following the firing of Stuart Bowers, a group leader in Tesla’s Autopilot team, a number of other software team employees have left the company. Insiders claim that around 11 members of the team, or close to 10 percent of the total group, left the company in the months following Bowers’ departure.
Between 2016 and 2018, Tesla saw the departure of three Autopilot team leads over the course of 18 months. Many other autopilot managers and engineers have also left the firm. One of the issues that the team is reportedly facing is the transition to “feature complete” full self-driving car autonomy from the vehicles current state of “self-driving” which is similar to an advanced version of cruise control.
Currently, Tesla vehicles can stay in a single lane, maintain a safe distance from other cars, change lanes, and take freeway interchanges, but upgrading these features to full self-driving autonomy is no easy feat. Musk wants the vehicles to be able to handle all types of roads and intersection by the end of the year, which as far as he is concerned will make the system “feature complete.”
Musk has previously stated that he believes manufacturing fully self-driving vehicles is not particularly hard, saying in 2015 that it was “a much easier problem than people think it is.” He further claimed at the time that Tesla would have the problem solved within two years. Obviously, this deadline was not met, Musk later stated that the company would have working self-driving vehicles by 2020 putting the software team under even more pressure.
Tesla insiders claim that Musk has told tech employees at Tesla that “he was unhappy with the progress in developing fully automated driving capabilities. He is also upset that some team members have told him they can’t meet the timelines he has set for developing the technology.”