Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter Thursday night to announce that Tesla is ramping up the hiring for the Autopilot software team in order to achieve “generalized full autonomy”. Under its current version, the Autopilot can steer the car on highways and change lane by simply activating the turn signal, but to get to full autonomy, Tesla will need to update its software and suite of sensors.
[tweet https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/667516705116065792 align=’center’]
Musk describes the project as “super high priority”. The CEO added that the Autopilot team reports directly to him and no prior experience in the automotive industry is required, but he is looking for “hardcore” software engineers. After the release of the Autopilot last month, Tesla confirmed that about 50 employees are working on the software and a team of ~100 people have been working on the hardware package.
[tweet https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/667519445414252544 align=’center’]
The company has been including the hardware package on all Model S’s manufactured since October 2014, but the features have been gradually released via over-the-air update throughout the past 12 months – with the most significant update being the ‘Autosteer’ feature last month. In May 2015, Musk hired Robert Rose, a former software director from his other company, SpaceX, to lead the Autopilot team through the rollout of the update. According to his LinkedIn profile, Rose left Tesla right after to release last month.
One of Tesla’s main supplier for the Autopilot system recently hinted that the second generation hardware suite needed for the generalized full autonomy could find its way into Tesla’s cars sooner than expected. The company is likely to take a similar approach as with the first generation, and gradually release more advanced autonomous features months after starting to install the new hardware suite in the vehicles.
There are currently over 50,000 Model S’s with Autopilot hardware on the road creating about 1 million miles of data every day, which feed the collective network intelligence of the fleet to improve the features and some owners are already reporting noticeable improvements.
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