Tesla’s Autopilot is designed to seem simple, smooth and effortless to the driver. We all understand that there’s a tremendous amount of work going on behind the scenes, but few realize how many highly skilled people are working on this ever-evolving system.
CleanTechnica’s Zachary Shahan was fortunate to score an interview with Elon Musk, who was keen to share the credit with the large and diverse Autopilot team. “It is extremely important to emphasize that Tesla Autopilot is the work of 300 super-talented engineers,” said Musk. “Please put in bold letters my quote that what people experience in the cars is the result of a large number of extremely talented engineers working very hard. Please give me the least credit.”
The Autopilot team includes “just under 200 [engineers] on the software side, and a little over 100 on the chip-design side,” as well as “over 500 highly skilled labelers” (soon to be expanded to 1,000). It is supervised by several directors, each responsible for the various hardware and software components, who report directly to Elon. Despite the size of the team, Musk stays closely involved with the details—he meets with the heads once a week.
The fact that 300 “Jedi engineers,” as Shahan calls them, are required to keep your Tesla driving smoothly and safely testifies to the incredible complexity of the task at hand. As Shahan writes, getting a computer to drive a car is easy, but getting a computer to drive a car on roads shared with humans is another matter. Designing a system that can drive a car on any road anywhere in the world, under any foreseeable condition…that’s a programming problem for the ages, and one that even Tesla has yet to solve.