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Tesla loses Autopilot VP and chip architect Jim Keller

by Justin King
Tesla loses Autopilot VP and chip architect Jim Keller

His former colleage from AMD and Apple, Pete Bannon, will take over responsibility for Autopilot hardware.

Tesla is experiencing another shakeup in its Autopilot hardware leadership as vice president Jim Keller departs.

The chip architect joined Tesla in 2015, eventually taking responsibility for Autopilot hardware, software and infotainment. He previously worked at AMD and Apple's PA Semi.

"Prior to joining Tesla, Jim's core passion was microprocessor engineering and he's now joining a company where he'll be able to once again focus on this exclusively," Tesla said in a statement to Electrek. "We appreciate his contributions to Tesla and wish him the best."

Unofficial reports suggest Keller left for Intel. It is unclear if he will be working in a similar field, perhaps under Intel's Mobileye team, or on other projects.

He will be replaced by a former AMD and PA Semi colleague, Pete Bannon, who has been at Tesla for two years.

"Pete has been building processors since 1984, co-led the development of Apple's A5 chip and then continued development through to the A9 chip. Prior to Apple, Pete was the VP of architecture and verification at PA Semi," Tesla said.

Notably, Bannon will not be taking Keller's full range of responsibilities. Andrej Karpathy, currently director of AI and Autopilot vision, will now lead development of all Autopilot software.

Karpathy's expanding role reflects the growing importance of AI in Tesla's autonomous driving platform. CEO Elon Musk late last year announced a breakthrough in establishing an Autopilot vision neural net, paving the way for "rapid rollout of additional functionality over the next several months" and bringing the company closer to its goal of a coast-to-coast demonstration drive with nobody touching the controls.