Tesla loses a high AI lead.

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Tesla has lost a top AI engineer in charge of the “planning, simulation learning and RL team for Tesla AI” amid a broader talent exodus.

Over the past few weeks, Tesla has been conducting several large waves of layoffs throughout its organization.

On top of the layoffs, we recently reported that some Tesla employees are leaving the company due to low morale.

There is a clear talent drain at Tesla right now.

Another example is Pearl Jane.

Gene spent the last 9 years at Tesla where he became an integral part of Tesla's autonomous driving efforts.

Most recently, he was the Tech Lead for the “Planning, Simulation Learning and RL Team for Tesla AI.” He listed his team's responsibilities on LinkedIn:

  • Build foundation models for autonomy that can reach vehicular as well as humanoid platforms
  • Leverage millions of miles of driving data and interventions to build a robust and scalable end-to-end learning-based self-driving system.
  • Research on generative models, reward models and advanced reinforcement learning techniques to improve the safety and comfort of our driving models.
  • Experiment with artificial data generation and network-based data collection methods to increase the diversity and quality of training data.
  • On-board production quality, safety-critical software for Tesla's entire vehicle fleet

Today, he announced that he is leaving Tesla to co-found The Bot Company, a robot startup founded by Twitch and Cruise co-founder Kyle Vogt.

Super pump for the next phase of building. We've spent the last decade building robots that give people back some of their time, and now it's time to take it to the next level with The Bot Company.

Jane has kind words for the Tesla team:

As for Tesla – it's been an incredible 7 years building the best self-driving product on the market. You'll love the upcoming versions of V12 and the original Smart Summon. The team is on an amazing path to drive further improvements on the road to driverless

After all, it looks like Tesla's autonomous driving team has lost another engineering leader.

Electrek's Take

As I've been saying for a while, Tesla's greatest strength has always been its ability to attract and retain talent. The company has always ranked at the top where engineering students want to work.

I think the way Elon handled the latest round of layoffs, and the talent exodus that's happening now, shows that that potential is fading.

I hope they can turn it around.

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