Tesla Starts Ramping Up Autopilot Driving Unit

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Elon Musk sent out the following Tweet on Sep 19 2013

Engineers interested in working on autonomous driving, pls email autopilot@teslamotors.com. Team will report directly to me.

That tweet began an intense speculation on Tesla’s plans, autonomous vehicle technology & timelines. In his last comments on June 5th 2014, Musk stated that there will be significant progress on autonomous driving within the year.

Based on our research & analysis, we are able to see patterns of increased ramping up of Tesla’s autopilot, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) & autonomous teams. The below timeline charts the ramp up of key personnel after Musk’s tweet.

The above table shows key hiring from across industry majors such as BMW (Darren Licardo), Hyundai (Andrew Gray) & Volvo (Stefan Solyom) for managerial & leadership positions. The engineering background of all these key hires includes an education in Robotics, Mechanical & Electrical engineering from places such as Carnegie Mellon, MIT and UC Berkeley.  The list of the key people & the backgrounds are at the end of the research note.

Besides, these key hires, there are several internal Tesla groups & personnel that are increasingly supporting Autopilot & Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) activities. For example, long time Tesla engineers Benjamin Thompson & Cam Christie are supporting more ADAS related activities along with their core infotainment focus. In addition, to the Infotainment teams, engineers in the powertrain group such as Justin Sill are also supporting ADAS/Autopilot activities.

Director level employees such as David Lau (Firmware) & Satish Jeyachandran (Hardware Engineering), have been given additional responsibilities around autonomous driving along with prior responsibilities.  The autonomous driving push has also percolated to internships where at least four interns from Duke University, University of Minnesota & Georgia Tech have worked on these initiatives.

Tesla continues to hire and has open job postings for at least 11 ADAS related positions as of July 3rd 2014. The open positions in Palo Alto include Camera Validation Engineer. Lead Rader Engineer & Vehicle test engineers. The full list of open positions is also in the table after the list of key hires.

List of Key hires & people working on Tesla’s ADAS & Autopilot efforts: 

  1. Andrew Grey joined in Oct 2013 as Sr. Engineering Manager from Hyundai (PHD, Control Theory, Dynamics, Artificial Intelligence, University of California, Berkeley)

  2. Ross Maguire: Associate Manager - Dynamics and Performance Test, Transferred to ADAS Vehicle testing in December 2013. (BS, Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University)

  3. Ashok Elluswamy joined in Jan 2014 as Firmware Engineer, Autopilot. Previously with Volkswagen Electronic Research Lab (Master of Science, Robotic Systems Development at Carnegie Mellon)

  4. Jamie Carlson joined in Feb 2014 Staff Firmware Engineer from Gentex Corporation,  (B.S, Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Minnesota-Duluth)

  5. Riccardo Biasini transferred as Sr. Controls Engineer focusing on Autonomous Driving in Mar 2014 (MS, Automotive engineering, Università di Pisa)

  6. Christopher Brown joined in Mar 2014 as Firmware engineer from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory where he was a Robotics Engineer. (Master of Science (MS), Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

  7. Darren Liccardo joined in May 2014 as Sr. Software Manager, Autopilot from BMW’s American Technology Office (MSEE, BSEE, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley)

  8. Adam Kilgore joined in May 2014 as Senior Mechanical Design Engineer - Driver Assistance Autopilot from GoPro (Mechanical Engineering Technology, Mechanical Design, Purdue University)

  9. Hyunggi Cho joined in June 2014 as Senior Controls Engineer from Carnegie Mellon University where he was a PHD candidate.

  10. Akshay Joshi joined in June 2014 as a Firmware Engineer from Marvell Semiconductor (M.S, Electrical Engg, University of Texas, Arlington)

  11. Stefan Solyom joined in June 2014 as a Driver Assistance Systems Architect from Volvo Car Corporation where he was a Technical Expert - Autonomous Driving Support (PHD, Automatic Control, Lund Institute of Technology)
List of Open Job Positions for Tesla’s ADAS & Autopilot efforts:
Job TitleLocation# of Positions
Advance Driver Assistance Systems - Lead Radar EngineerUS-CA-Palo Alto-Deer Creek-Office1
Advance Driver Assistance Systems - Product Engineer, Camera HardwareUS-CA-Palo Alto-Deer Creek-Office1
Advance Driver Assistance Systems - Radar Validation EngineerUS-CA-Palo Alto-Deer Creek-Office1
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems - Hardware Engineering ManagerUS-CA-Palo Alto-Deer Creek-Office1
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems - Simulation Systems EngineerUS-CA-Palo Alto-Deer Creek-Office1
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems – Development, Simulation, and Validation Tools EngineerUS-CA-Palo Alto-Deer Creek-Office1
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems – Simulation and Validation Systems LeadUS-CA-Palo Alto-Deer Creek-Office1
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems – Simulation and Validation Systems ManagerUS-CA-Palo Alto-Deer Creek-Office1
Associate Vehicle Test Engineer - PerformanceUS-CA-Fremont-Office-Service1
Vehicle Test Technician II- PerformanceUS-CA-Fremont-Office-Service1