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Tesla loses senior Autopilot manager to Lyft’s autonomous driving team

There have been many shake-ups in the leadership of Tesla’s Autopilot as the autonomous driving space is getting increasingly competitive and companies are hunting for talent with experience in the field.

Sameer Qureshi is one of those engineers with experience since he has been “responsible for the entire Autopilot software stack across all of Tesla’s cars and platforms” for the past year and a half.

Now Electrek has learned that he left the automaker this month to join Lyft.

Qureshi was a veteran software engineer at Intel when he joined Tesla’s team in 2014 to oversee the software stack of the Model X, a program led by Sterling Anderson at the time, ahead of the vehicle’s launch.

After the launch of the Model X, Anderson became the Autopilot program director, a post that he left in controversy in December 2016 to found his own autonomous driving startup.

At that time, Qureshi became “responsible for the entire Autopilot software stack across all of Tesla’s cars and platforms”, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He held the position throughout the entire rollout of software updates on the new Autopilot 2.0 hardware suite.

We now learn that he left to join Lyft’s Level 5 team as Director of Product this month.

The team was launched last summer as the ride-hailing company’s autonomous driving division at their Level 5 Engineering Center in Palo Alto.

The group is led by Luc Vincent, a former Google engineering exec who is credited with creating Google Street View.

Electrek’s Take

Qureshi’s departure from the Autopilot team follows the departure of Tesla’s VP of Autopilot and chip guru Jim Keller.

He was a senior manager and he didn’t have an executive role like Keller or Lattner and Anderson, who left before him, but he had an intimate knowledge of Tesla’s Autopilot software, which makes him very valuable for the dozens of companies currently developing autonomous driving software.

There’s a ton of money flowing into the space and recruiters are working double time to secure talent and Tesla’s Autopilot team is a popular target.

It undoubtedly resulted in some poaching, like Xinlai Ni, a former senior Autopilot software engineer and now Chief Architect at Baidu, and Junli Gu, a machine learning expert on the Autopilot team and now Vice President of Autonomous Driving at Xiaopeng Motors, but it’s important to note that Tesla’s Autopilot team has still managed to retain many key engineers.

For example, it goes both ways. Tesla poached data scientist Gabor Szabo from Lyft almost 2 years ago and he has been leading the Autopilot Maps team ever since.

The same thing happened with Baidu. Before Xinlai Ni was poached to join Baidu’s team, Tesla hired their machine learning expert Sanjeev Satheesh to work on Autopilot.

There are many more examples like that.

Featured Image: Tesla releases new self-driving demonstration video with real-time ‘Tesla Vision’ feed

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