Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, reportedly informed executives in early June that the company needed to make a 10% employee reduction due to a “super bad feeling” about the economy. Recent reports are now showing the locations of some of these cuts.
According to Bloomberg, which cited people familiar with the situation, Tesla terminated about 200 employees from its San Mateo, California office who were part of the Autopilot team.
Bloomberg noted that many of these people were hourly workers, contrary to earlier claims that Tesla was concentrating on cutting salaried employees and increasing hourly ones.
Many of the employees let go in this round of layoffs, according to sources, were “data annotation specialists,” who labeled data from Tesla’s fleet of customers before feeding it to neural networks to enhance object recognition in the automaker’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Beta driver-assistance suites.
A similar data-labeling team is still in operation in Buffalo, New York. The Buffalo team’s hourly wage is, however, less than the one in San Mateo.
Tesla is developing an auto-labeling tool that would be able to annotate the exact types of data that the workers listed above were working on, according to a tweet from the company’s head of AI and computer vision that Electrek cited in late 2021.
The news comes after the automaker reintroduced the Enhanced Autopilot package for its electric cars earlier in the week. This optional upgrade, which will cost $6,000, builds upon the standard Autopilot driver-assistance suite by adding automatic lane changes, automatic parking assist, Navigate on Autopilot, and automated vehicle retrieval (also known as Summon and Smart Summon).
Autopilot has had a difficult month of June following the NHTSA’s decision to cover about 830,000 vehicles in its investigation into crashes involving the system.