Tesla Lays Off 200 Autopilot Workers, Shutters Its San Mateo Office
It looks as though not quite everything may be copacetic in the world of Tesla’s Autopilot feature.
That’s because yesterday, in the midst of a now weeks-long period of silence for Elon Musk on Twitter, it was reported that Tesla was laying off about 200 jobs related to Autopilot and closing its San Mateo office, where Autopilot was the focus.
Two employees told CNBC that they knew the company’s lease was heading toward its end on the office.
The CNBC report said that the jobs were likely “data annotation” jobs, which “involves identifying and describing objects in short clips that were captured by cameras and sensors on Tesla vehicles”, in addition to labeling data.
Data labelers are also responsible for logging overlapping objects and their effectiveness as employees is rated on how many clips they can annotate over short periods of time.
An employee told CNBC they expected to be moved to Palo Alto, but not to lose their job. In a audio recording of a Tesla meeting, a manager tells employees “You knew our lease was ending here in San Mateo,” before telling them the company has put a “restructure in place” and that their “positions were impacted”.
Employees were told that June 28 would be their last day.
Meanwhile, the loss of employees in the Autopilot division comes just days after we reported that Teslas on Autopilot were found to crash more than competitors. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been gathering the data for about a year. It said two weeks ago that it had documented more than 200 crashes involving Teslas on some form of automated driving system.
The data will “single out” Tesla for a “disproportionately high number” of crashes, AP wrote last week.
The data showed that Tesla’s crash rate per 1,000 vehicles was “substantially higher” than other automakers. The data was being collected as part of a NHTSA investigation looking into Tesla vehicles’ mysterious penchants for crashing into stopped vehicles and emergency vehicles on roadways – a disturbing trend we have been documenting for the better part of the last several years.
Remember, we wrote back in February that the NHTSA was looking at over 416,000 Teslas over “phantom braking”.
The agency had opened a formal investigation into 416,000 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles over reports of unexpected brake activation at high speeds when driver-assistance system Autopilot is engaged.
NHTSA said the investigation was being opened after it received 354 complaints about “rapid deceleration can occur without warning, at random, and often repeatedly in a single drive cycle.” No crashes or injuries have stemmed from the braking issue.
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