There have been some significant comings and goings in Tesla’s Autopilot leadership over the past few months. Most significantly, Tesla hired the creator of the Swift programming language, Chris Lattner, from Apple to lead the Autopilot software team. It enabled Jinnah Hosein, SpaceX’s Vice President of Software and who had been filling the position, to get back to his regular job. Sterling Anderson, Tesla’s Autopilot program director, also left the company to start his own self-driving startup and he was subsequently sued by Tesla over his hiring of a few colleagues.
Now we learn of Tesla’s Vice President of Autopilot Vision, David Nistér, leaving the Autopilot leadership team for Nvidia.
The Information first revealed Nistér’s move to Nvidia:
“At Nvidia, Mr. Nistér will be working on developing software to help customers make high-definition maps, which typically aim for centimeter-level accuracy for everything from lane markings to traffic signs, said a person familiar with the hiring. Such maps are a core part of self-driving systems.”
Nvidia supplies onboard supercomputers, the Drive PX 2, on which Tesla runs its image processing software ‘Tesla Vision’. Nistér, a former computer vision expert at Microsoft, led the development of Tesla Vision since joining Tesla in 2015.
The development of the image processing software falls under the Autopilot software team which is led by Lattner since January. Tesla says that Nistér was moved to another role at that point and decided to leave Tesla.
A spokesperson sent Electrek the following statement:
“With Chris Lattner’s arrival as the new leader of the Autopilot team, David was moved to a different role and didn’t see a path forward at Tesla. We appreciate his contributions and wish him well.”
The move comes as Tesla pushed its software update 8.1, which Lattner described as “the biggest update yet” for Tesla’s vehicles with second generation Autopilot hardware.
Tesla’s Autopilot software team is currently working on building all its driver assist features on its new Autopilot architecture using the new hardware and the ‘Tesla Vision’ technology. The company claims that the combination of the two will relatively soon enable fully self-driving capability through a software update.