Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Tesla lays off about 200 Autopilot employees

According to people familiar with the matter, Tesla Inc. shut down a California facility as the electric-automaker furloughed hundreds of employees from its Autopilot team.

Surprisingly, most of those let go were hourly workers, said the people, who asked not to be identified while discussing personal information. As recently as last week, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk outlined plans to cut 10 pc of salaried employees, but said he would increase hourly jobs.

Teams from the San Mateo office were tasked with evaluating customer vehicle data related to Autopilot driver-assistance features and labeling the so-called data. Many of the staff were data annotation specialists, all of whom are in hourly positions, one of the people said.

According to the people, in total about 200 workers were let go. Before the cuts, the office had about 350 employees, some of whom had already been transferred to a nearby facility in recent weeks.

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Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla is lowering its ranks after a hiring boom in recent years. The company, now based in Austin, Texas, had grown to approximately 100,000 employees globally as it built new factories in Austin and Berlin.

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Musk surprised workers earlier this month when he said layoffs would be necessary in an increasingly volatile economic environment. He clarified in an interview with Bloomberg that around 10 percent of salaried workers will lose their jobs in the next three months, although the total workforce could be higher in a year.

The EV market leader’s downsizing efforts have focused on areas that have grown very rapidly. Some human resources employees and software engineers are among those who have been laid off, and in some cases, the cuts have affected employees who only worked for a few weeks at the company.

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Those affected by the latest move worked at one of the high-profile features in Tesla vehicles. In the job posting, Tesla said that labeled data is “a key component to training the powerful deep neural network, which helps Tesla vehicles drive autonomously.” Employees in Buffalo, New York and San Mateo spent hours labeling images for cars and the environments they navigate, such as road signs and traffic lanes.

In Buffalo, Tesla is continuing to expand its Autopilot data-labeling teams, a person familiar with the matter said. But employees at that location, who are performing similar roles, are paid a lower hourly rate than in San Mateo, the person said.

Tesla shares fell less than 1 percent in late trading. The stock lost 34 per cent this year as of Tuesday’s close, compared to a 20 per cent drop in the SP 500 index.

Nation World News Desk
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