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Tesla lets go of hundreds of Autopilot data labelers as it closes San Mateo office

Tesla has laid off about 200 people working at its San Mateo offices as it closes the location. Most of the employees were working as Autopilot data labelers – a critical project for Tesla to achieve self-driving capability.

LinkedIn is flooding with posts from now former Tesla employees working at its San Mateo office after the automaker let them know yesterday that it would be shutting down the office and letting go of the employees there.

For example, Marilyn Alvarez, a data annotation specialist at Tesla, posted:

To all my fellow Tesla San Mateo folk, I just want to say I’m sorry for what has happened today. No one deserved this and it breaks my heart how many good people have lost their job today. I am so thankful for meeting you all, problem-solving, innovating, and adapting through this experience together. There is so much to be proud of that was done because of your hard work. You are all worthy, kind, and brilliant people who deserve the best. May better bigger opportunities that your values align with come to reality.

Most of the people working at the office were data labelers working on Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving programs. They label data coming from Tesla’s customer fleet in order to feed it to machine learning neural nets.

Tesla employs thousands of data labelers across the country.

The layoffs are part of larger mass layoffs that Tesla initiated earlier this month. CEO Elon Musk claimed that it would only be for salaried employees, but Electrek confirmed that many hourly workers were also affected.

It is surprising that people in the Autopilot and self-driving programs are also being affected considering how important those programs are to the company according to the CEO.

However, Tesla has also been working on auto-labeling technology that could reduce the need for manual labeling from workers.

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