Tesla CEO Elon Musk moves talent to where it's needed most.
Andrej Karpathy, computer vision and deep learning specialist with a doctoral degree from Stanford University, is a new leader at Tesla's Autopilot division. He previously worked at OpenAI, which is another of Elon Musk's many ventures. His expertise weighs heavily in artificial intelligence, but his doctoral degree is in computer vision.
A self-driving Model X with new enhanced hardware was demonstrated by Tesla in October
Not surprisingly, Musk has decided that Karpathy will head up the division as the Director of Artificial Intelligence and Autopilot Vision. This role assures that Karpathy reports directly to Musk. However, likely due to his "newness," he will be initially working alongside Jim Keller, who was formerly in charge of the Autopilot hardware division. Keller has moved on to leading the teams for both software and hardware for Tesla's automated driver-assistance features.
Karpathy also has related experiences from his time at the University of Toronto, as well as the University of British Columbia. Additionally, he was an intern at Google’s DeepMind.
As Tesla has been in the lengthy process of building its own proprietary "Tesla Vision" system to replace the former Mobileye technology, Karpathy's wealth of knowledge and expertise should prove advantageous. This will be especially true as Tesla moves toward its goal of full self-driving software.
Karpathy's Stanford dissertation, "Connecting Images and Natural Language," dealt with developing a software-based neural network, which could identify specific items in an image (see below).
Tesla shared specific information about Karpathy with TechCrunch:
Andrej Karpathy, one of the world’s leading experts in computer vision and deep learning, is joining Tesla as Director of AI and Autopilot Vision, reporting directly to Elon Musk. Andrej has worked to give computers vision through his work on ImageNet, as well as imagination through the development of generative models, and the ability to navigate the internet with reinforcement learning. He was most recently a Research Scientist at OpenAI.
Andrej completed his computer vision PhD at Stanford University, where he demonstrated the ability to derive complex descriptions of images using a deep neural net. For example, identifying not simply that there is a cat in a given picture, but that it is an orange, spotted cat, riding on a skateboard with red wheels on brown hardwood flooring (photo and excerpt below). He also created and taught “Convolutional Neural Networks for Visual Recognition,” the first and still leading deep learning course at Stanford.
Andrej will work closely with Jim Keller, who now has overall responsibility for Autopilot hardware and software.
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Image via Andrej Karpathy's Dissertation: Connecting Images and Natural Language (via Stanford University)