Tesla Loses Its Self-Driving Architect

As Autopilot comes under increasing fire.

tesla autopilot
Getty ImagesSpencer Platt

Jim Keller, who has been running Tesla's Autopilot hardware program since 2016, is leaving the company for Intel. The news, a major loss for Tesla, was first reported by .

Keller has had crucial roles in overseeing some of the major tech projects of the last decade. Before Tesla, he played a major role in Apple's development of A4 and A5 processors, the processors that powered many Apple mobile devices from 2010 to 2012. And before that, he worked at chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), developing the Zen computer processor microarchitecture.

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At the time of his hiring, Tesla that "Jim will bring together the best internal and external hardware technologies to develop the safest, most advanced autopilot systems in the world."

During that time, Autopilot as seen both successes and failures. While the Autopilot feature is generally "," every time the hardware fails it flies in the face of the company's CEO, Elon Musk has made. A earlier this year showed that the work is far from done.

In a press statement, the company said that "prior to joining Tesla, Jim’s core passion was microprocessor engineering and he’s now joining a company where he’ll be able to once again focus on this exclusively. We appreciate his contributions to Tesla and wish him the best.”

Losing a chip architect of Keller's stature would be a loss for any company, and in Tesla's case represents only the latest high-level employee loss in recent years. The California company has recently parted ways with its top sales executive and chief financial officer as well.

But it's not like Tesla is having any trouble recruiting top-tier talent. Keller is getting replaced by Pete Bannon, who has quite the industry stature in his own right. A spokesman for the company says that

Pete Bannon, who has been at Tesla for over two years, will now lead Autopilot hardware. Pete has been building processors since 1984, co-led the development of Apple’s A5 chip and then continued development through to the A9 chip. Prior to Apple, Pete was the VP of architecture and verification at PA Semi. Andrej Karpathy, Tesla’s Director of AI and Autopilot Vision, will now have overall responsibility for all Autopilot software.
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At Intel, Keller will be reuniting with Intel’s chief chip architect Raja Koduri. Keller and Koduri worked together at AMD and at Apple. The band having gotten back together, the two will work on new products at Intel, the Wall Street Journal.

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