Tesla Reportedly Lays Off 200 Autopilot Employees

The employees were in charge of labeling data for training neural networks, Bloomberg reports.

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Andrew Krok
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Elon Musk at the 2022 Met Gala
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Elon Musk at the 2022 Met Gala
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In early June, Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly told executives that Tesla needed to cut 10% of its staff, based on a "super bad feeling" about the economy. Now, as Tesla pares back its workforce, new reports are highlighting where some of those cuts are taking place.

Tesla laid off roughly 200 people on its Autopilot team, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Electrek's and Reuters' reports appears to confirm this, citing LinkedIn posts from Tesla employees who were let go from the company's San Mateo, California office. Bloomberg notes that many of these employees were hourly, a contrast from previous statements that said the company was focused on reducing salaried positions and boosting hourly ones.

One of Bloomberg's sources said that many employees in this layoff were "data annotation specialists," which entails labeling data coming from Tesla's customer fleet before feeding that data into neural networks meant to improve object recognition in the automaker's Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Beta driver-assistance suites. Tesla also operates a data-labeling team in Buffalo, New York, and a Bloomberg source noted to the outlet that the Buffalo team's hourly pay rate is lower than in San Mateo.

This may have a profound effect on the company's ability to process data for its neural networks, but Tesla may have an automated solution to counteract the workforce reduction. In late 2021, Electrek pointed to a tweet from Tesla's head of AI and computer vision, which detailed how the company is working on an auto-labeling tool that would be able to annotate the very kinds of data that the employees mentioned above were working on.

Tesla does not operate a public relations department to field requests for comment.

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