Recently, CNN Money got in touch with a couple of current and former Tesla employees who had/have a connection to the automaker's Autopilot program. More specifically, CNN Money conducted interviews with five current and former Tesla employees. Most spoke only on the condition of anonymity.
Before we dive into it, let us first state that, for obvious reasons, the words of former employees aren't always true.
As CNN Money explains:
"Even before Tesla reported the first known death of a driver using its autopilot feature, some employees worried the car company wasn't taking every possible precaution."
"But Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk believes that autopilot has the potential to save lives by reducing human error -- and has pushed hard to get the feature to market."
"The team's motto is "not to let the perfect be the enemy of the better," according to a source close to Tesla. For Musk specifically, the source says his driving force is "don't let concerns slow progress."
So, there was some concerns over Autopilot. That's normal when any company ventures into new, uncharted territories. And progress doesn't come without risk.
CNN Money got in touch with Eric Meadows, a former autopilot engineer at Tesla. He went on record, stating
"I came in with this mentality that Elon had: I want to go from on-ramp to off-ramp and the driver doesn't have to do anything. The last two months I was scared someone was going to die."
In hindsight it's easy to make a comment such as the one above. Meadows was fired from Tesla due to performance reasons.
According to sources, Musk was constantly battling with employees who were being "overly cautious" in regards to Autopilot development, despite Tesla's official stance that "safety is a top priority."
CNN Money posted this as an example:
"...one source close to Tesla pointed to the development of the self-parking feature. The sensors might not work as intended when the car is parked on the edge of a precipice, but that uncommon risk was weighed internally against the benefit of preventing "thousands of deaths" from drivers backing out of their garages."
Without risk, there are no rewards, right?
It seems obvious from CNN Money' article that Musk was/is always the one pushing the boundaries, whereas Tesla and some employees feel a lower risk approach might prove more beneficial in the long run. We know Musk is a risk taker who's more often than not been right, so we suppose his track record speaks for itself and perhaps it would be in the best interest if Tesla and its employees put their trust in Musk.
Source: CNN Money