Tesla’s top AI exec Andrej Karpathy, who helped develop Autopilot, is leaving

Andrej Karpathy, Tesla Inc.’s senior director of AI and head of its Autopilot Vision team, is leaving the company.

“It’s been a great pleasure to help Tesla towards its goals over the last 5 years and a difficult decision to part ways,” he said in a tweet Wednesday. “In that time, Autopilot graduated from lane keeping to city streets and I look forward to seeing the exceptionally strong Autopilot team continue that momentum.”

Karpathy said he has no concrete plans next, but expects to continue with “technical work in AI, open source and education.”

Karpathy joined Tesla in 2017 from Stanford University, and Tesla described him at the time as “one of the world’s leading experts in computer vision and deep learning.” He also worked as a research scientist at Open AI, a nonprofit that was co-founded by Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk.

“Thanks for everything you have done for Tesla! It has been an honor working with you,” Musk tweeted Wednesday.

In his role at Tesla, Karpathy helped develop the Autopilot driver-assistance feature, which uses a neural network as the “brain” of the vehicles. His Tesla team also handled data labeling; on Tuesday, Tesla confirmed it was laying off more than 200 people from its Autopilot data-annotation unit and closing an office in San Mateo, Calif.

Karpathy had been on sabbatical for the past several months.

Tesla shares

are down about 33% year to date, compared to the S&P 500’s

20% decline.

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