Apple Nabs Autonomous Driving Engineer From Tesla

AUG 25 2015 BY JAY COLE 27

We had assumed that Elon Musk’s high speed transportation system – the “Hyperloop”, was still in the concept stage.  However, given the speed the corporate brain-trust and engineers have been travelling between the two companies, it must already be a reality.

Hyperloop Between Tesla And Apple?

Hyperloop Between Tesla And Apple?

Today’s most recent coup comes via Apple, who has nabbed Jamie Carlson, a firmware engineer that had been working on Tesla’s latest autonomous driving program.

Mr. Carlson’s LinkedIn profile (via the Detroit Bureau) had most recently listed him as Tesla’s “Autopilot Firmware Manager” and “Lead firmware engineer for the Tesla autonomous vehicle”; however a recent change this month now shows him working as working at Apple.

New title at Apple?  Yupe, you guess it –Special Projects“.  

So, we will just go ahead and add Jamie to the list of other recent automotive personalities to join Apple’s autonomous EV project Titan; which has reportedly been looking to lease a secluded (and guarded) 2,100-acre, former naval base this summer for testing of the project.

Jamie Carlson's Work history (via LinkedIn)

Jamie Carlson’s Work history (via LinkedIn)

Going by the ultra-helpful LinkedIn profile platform alone, the Detroit Bureau notes that Mr. Carlson is one of at least six engineers familiar with autonomous driving technology that have recent joined Apple from around the industry.

The Detroit Bureau, hat tip to sven!

Categories: Apple, Tesla

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27 Comments on "Apple Nabs Autonomous Driving Engineer From Tesla"

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I wonder if these any of these people have given any thought to being on the right side of history, instead of mainly considering the amount of their signing bonus & paychecks? 🙁

Lol, yes they’re going with the company that has a balance sheet and P&L that ensure it will still be in business in five years.

We already knew you were an unethically shallow and self-serving individual. No need to SHOUT it at us, Mark…

Unethically shallow… I think that implies that his ethics are deep.

A simple comma would suffice. i.e. unethical, shallow.

Spiegel, don’t you have a homeless relative somewhere you can go kick around for awhile? You know, something that puts your talents to good use?

I don’t think Apple is the “wrong” side of history. I believe Apple is seriously exploring the EV/Autopilot space. As passenger cars move from the 10,000 moving parts down to about 100 moving parts, it becomes easier for other companies to invade the space (or at least, the entrants think it’ll be easy – ask Tesla how going up against NADA has been).

If anything, Apple would be a tremendous help to the industry. Apple has so much money they don’t know what to do with it – Tesla made a big splash raising $700M or so, Apple generates that much in profit in about 4 days. Apple could fund multiple EV start-ups with the cash it has on hand. $6B Gigafactory? Pfft! A month of profit.

Good grief, yes.

I have no idea where Anon is coming from, and it’s astonishing he’s getting support for his negativity. The idea that Apple is working on developing an autonomous car prototype is quite exciting, and it’s hard for me to understand why anyone would say negative things about that.

Google appears to be merely developing the software for self-driving cars. I suspect Apple actually wants to equip mass-produced cars with systems to enable autonomous driving. That is, I suspect they want to make sensors, hardware and software to enable self-driving cars, and sell those to established auto manufacturers. I think that’s every bit as exciting and forward-looking as what Tesla is doing.


Oh, Apple is doing much more than that. They are developing a fully autonomous car, release date around 2020. Designing how a car looks and operates without a driver is right up Apple’s alley. They may yet license a drivetrain and buy batteries from Tesla, but the car design will be theirs.

That remains to be seen. Google has developed its own self-driving cars, which are being used as test beds for their development of self-driving cars, as well as platforms for doing the street-level scanning they need to provide the data they need for proper control of their cars. Clearly Apple has to do the same, if they also want to develop self-driving car prototypes. Yet nobody is suggesting Google actually wants to build mass produced autonomous EVs. Why are so many convinced Apple wants to do that? Apple makes trendy electronic products with a high profit margin. They can easily and quickly scale up (or down) production, because electronics are light industry, so production can be scaled up without a huge investment of money or time. Contrariwise, making cars for the highly competitive first-world car market is heavy industry requiring massive amounts of capital investment, is slow to build up capacity and requires years to develop a new model of car and get it into production. It is a business characterized by thin profit margins. Certainly Apple has the excess cash to enter the automobile manufacturing market if they really want to. But it’s a very poor fit to their… Read more »

Good point. Mr Carlson’s professional profile looks more like the typical job hopper. He barely had time to finish ONE software lifecyle throughout his entire career.

When I hire engineers, I avoid job hoppers no matter how much they impress me. Important people leaving in the middle of something big causes a lot of headache that can’t be solved by throwing more money into the problem. Sometimes, team morale/dynamics get impacted too.

Best wishes to him and to Apple. I do want Apple’s special project to succeed.

I think that is a reasonable approach. To me the mentality of job-hoppers is counter-productive to business and the creation of team spirit. Also one might question their loyalty and dedication.

But seriously I don’t want the apple version of autonomous driving.

Apple, please keep your greedy grabby hands off of teslas innovation path and put your resources to fixing all the annoyances introduced in your own products since Steve Jobs passed away, then we get the best of both worlds separately instead of half baked solutions from one monopoly.

Elon himself said that Teslas goal is to bring mass EV motoring to the world as quickly as possible.

If Apple helps, that’s a GOOD thing for us all!

Or perhaps it would be better for Tesla to partner with Apple; letting Apple develop the sensor suite, software, and hardware necessary for fully autonomous cars, while Tesla concentrates on what it does best, which is developing and building the best cars in the world.

That would be a win-win situation. There’s no need to characterize this as Tesla “versus” Apple in developing autonomous cars.

When tesla hires core expertise away that may be critical to the innovation then it becomes an apple vs tesla just like it was apple vs A123 battery who felt they could basically shut down. See lawsuit via Google.

I love apple products, Mac, tablet, phone, but I don’t want them to ruin a good thing. I want them to compete with tesla but not at the price of bringing down tesla.

Absolutely not! Apple is a horrible company when it comes to respecting people’s rights and privacy. The last thing we need is a car that refuse to drive you where you want to go because of some stupid Apple policy.

“Today’s coup d’etat” — I think you just mean “coup” in this case. No one’s taking over a country here 😉

People actually use LinkedIn?

What’s supposed to be used? Facebook?

Dang, I wish people would quit e-mailing me invitations to join LinkedIn and/or view their profiles there.

If you’re not getting those, then consider yourself lucky.

About once a week.

Typical Si Valley talent poaching…

Yes, the Valley giveth and the Valley taketh away. This was inevitable when Tesla decided to locate there.

I’m guessing his Tesla stock options must have recently vested, and now there is nothing holding him there anymore.

“Apple has so much money they don’t know what to do with it”

Actually that might be a problem. At least in the context of who’s going to be around in five years.

I mean to be precise lots of companies are still around with no ideas. Western Union is still around. But who cares?