On April 26, Intel announced it had hired Jim Keller, the head of Tesla’s Autopilot programme, to lead the chipmaker’s silicon engineering. Keller’s departure from Tesla signals deepening trouble at the electric carmaker’s Autopilot division.
Keller has extensive experience in microprocessor design, having been chief architect at mobile-processor specialist PA Semi before the company was acquired by Apple in 2008. At Apple, Keller was instrumental in the design of the A4 processor responsible for powering the iPhone 4. In 2012, Keller joined chipmaker AMD, staying at the company until the end of 2015, when he joined Tesla to work on its Autopilot system.
Jim Keller’s departure from Tesla Autopilot is the third time the programme’s head has left in just over a year
“I had a great experience working at Tesla, learned a lot and look forward to all the great technology coming from Tesla in the future,” said Keller in a statement. “My lifelong passion has been developing the world’s best silicon products.
“The world will be a very different place in the next decade as a result of where computing is headed. I am excited to join the Intel team, to build the future of CPUs, GPUs, accelerators and other products for the data-centric computing era.”
Keller’s departure from Tesla Autopilot is the third time the programme’s head has left in just over a year. Keller took over for Chris Lattner in June 2017, after Lattner had spent just six months in charge of the division. Lattner had replaced Sterling Anderson after his departure at the end of 2016.
The news comes after a tumultuous couple of years for Tesla’s Autopilot programme. Despite technological progress on the platform, a driver operating Tesla’s Autopilot system was killed in 2017 – the first ever death involving an autonomous vehicle.
More recently, a driver was killed when his vehicle, running Autopilot, crashed on a highway in March. Tesla has faced criticism for not providing the same level of redundancy as rival autonomous driving programmes like Waymo.