Posted on April 20, 2016
“Tessy” Saves the Day for Tesla Model S Owner, But Tesla Still Loses Top Engineer to Apple
Sometimes bad things can happen to good companies whose technology saved the day. This was the case recently with Tesla, whose automated driver assistance feature avoided a crash. At the same time, Chris Porritt, who was Tesla's vice president of vehicle engineering, has left the electric car leader to go to Apple, just four months after the head of Apple’s mystery electric car project, Steve Zadesky, left Apple. Strong indicators point to the likelihood that Porritt will take over the Apple car project.
It turns out poaching each other’s top technical talent isn’t outside the norm for electric car innovators right now, though. Many Apple employees have been lured away by Tesla, just as Tesla employees have defected to Apple. In an industry this insular and new, it is bound to happen. Porritt is not alone in leaving Tesla to join a different firm; another tech startup developing a self-driving vehicle, Comma.ai, recently hired another Tesla employee for its software integration project.
It’s been reported that the new Apple car project team includes employees in the hundreds who hail from many different companies including Texas Instruments, A123 Systems, Land Rover, Ford, Concept Systems, Autoliv, Tesla Motors, General Dynamics and other firms.
Elon Musk Approves Tesla Technology That Saved Driver
Whether it is considered user-friendly to every demographic or not, the fantastic autopilot feature on Tesla’s Model S has just saved a life. When a truck was just about to collide with another vehicle, Tesla recently saved the day by automatically stopping the collision from happening by moving the car out of the truck’s path. By swerving over to the right, the Tesla Model S let Joshua Brown, the driver, know what it was doing by chiming a warning. In Brown’s own words:
“I was driving down the interstate and you can see the boom lift truck in question on the left side of the screen on a joining interstate road. Once the roads merged, the truck tried to get to the exit ramp on the right and never saw my Tesla. I actually wasn’t watching that direction and Tessy (the name of my car) was on duty with autopilot engaged. I became aware of the danger when Tessy alerted me with the ‘immediately take over’ warning chime and the car swerving to the right to avoid the side collision.”
Brown indicated that he has tested “Tessy” a lot for its software capabilities and sensors, and that the only thing he hadn’t tested was the Model S’ side collision avoidance.
Watch the Tesla Model S autopilot feature in traffic:
Tesla Nearly Ready for Driverless Capability in its Cars
It was also rumoured last summer that Tesla CEO Musk indicated his company was nearly ready to have its cars perform some parallel parking and operate without drivers on highways. Included in the Model S Tesla cars’ built-in driver assistance systems are 12 sensors that can respond to objects within 16 feet of the car, a camera mounted by the rear-view mirror and forward radar.