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Tesla hires creator of Swift programming language from Apple to lead Autopilot software


Today, Chris Lattner announced that he quit Apple after over a decade at the company where he developed the Swift programming language and worked on the Xcode and App store architecture.

Later in the day, Tesla confirmed that Lattner will be joining the automaker as Vice President of Autopilot Software.

Lattner will be replacing Jinnah Hosein, SpaceX’s Vice President of Software, who has been serving a dual role at Elon Musk’s rocket company and the automaker as the interim lead on Autopilot software.

He will be able to go back to SpaceX full-time.

Musk isn’t the only executive splitting his time between the two companies, like Hosein, he also hired one of Apple’s top alloy expert to lead materials engineering at both Tesla and SpaceX.

Back to Lattner. The veteran software engineer, who prior to working at Apple was the lead author of the LLVM Compiler Infrastructure, will be joining the executive team of Tesla’s Autopilot program, which consists of David Nister, Vice President of Autopilot Vision, and Jim Keller, Vice-President of Autopilot Hardware Engineering, among others.

He joins the team at a critical moment, especially for the software team, as the company is working on the roll-out of the new Enhanced Autopilot software following the introduction of the second generation Autopilot hardware.

Lattner is definitely one of the most high-profile hires from Tesla ever and the latest example of the “poaching war” between Tesla and Apple.

Tesla issued the following press release to make the announcement:

We would like to welcome Chris Lattner, who will join Tesla as our Vice President of Autopilot Software. Chris’ reputation for engineering excellence is well known. He comes to Tesla after 11 years at Apple where he was primarily responsible for creating Swift, the programming language for building apps on Apple platforms and one of the fastest growing languages for doing so on Linux. Prior to Apple, Chris was lead author of the LLVM Compiler Infrastructure, an open source umbrella project that is widely used in commercial products and academic research today.

As Chris joins Tesla, we would like to give a special thanks to Jinnah Hosein, SpaceX’s Vice President of Software, who has been serving a dual role as the interim Vice President of Tesla Autopilot Software and will now be heading back to SpaceX full-time. We would like to thank Jinnah for the efforts needed to achieve excellence in both roles, David Nister, our Vice President of Autopilot Vision, and the team for their exceptional work in advancing Autopilot.

We are very excited that Chris is joining Tesla to lead our Autopilot engineering team and accelerate the future of autonomous driving.

Update: Tesla also confirmed that Sterling Anderson, Director of Autopilot programs, left the company.

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