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January 11, 2017

Tesla Hires Apple Engineer to Head Up Autopilot Software Division

Tesla is adding Apple’s Chris Lattner to its team to shore up its autopilot engineering team.

Lattner, who will take over as vice-president of Tesla’s autopilot software division, led Apple’s developer tools department and is credited with the creation of Swift, the programming language for building apps on Apple platforms.

“We are very excited that Chris is joining Tesla to lead our Autopilot engineering team and accelerate the future of autonomous driving,” Tesla said in a blog post. “Chris’s reputation for engineering excellence is well known.”

Taking over from Lattner as Apple’s project lead for its Swift project will be Ted Kremenek. He will manage the administrative and leadership responsibility for

Chris Lattner

Chris Lattner

“This recognizes the incredible effort he has already been putting into the project, and reflects a decision I’ve made to leave Apple later this month to pursue an opportunity in another space,” Lattner said. “This decision wasn’t made lightly, and I want you all to know that I’m still completely committed to Swift. I plan to remain an active member of the Swift Core Team, as well as a contributor to the swift-evolution mailing list. Working with many phenomenal teams at Apple to launch Swift has been a unique life experience. Apple is a truly amazing place to be able to assemble the skills, imagination, and discipline to pull something like this off.”

Lattner is coming on board as Tesla puts its focus on its Enhanced Autopilot, which has many of the same features as the original version, but is more accurate and efficient.

As part of the autopilot system, each vehicle has eight surround cameras providing 360-degree visibility for up to 250 meters. There are also 12 ultrasonic sensors enabling detection of objects at nearly twice the distance of the previous system while a forward-facing radar equipped with enhanced processing will offer up further data. Processing the data will be a new and much more powerful onboard computer with the Tesla-developed neural net for vision, sonar and radar processing software.

As Tesla puts it, the system “provides a view of the world that a driver alone cannot access, seeing in every direction simultaneously and on wavelengths that go far beyond the human senses.”



Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.