Posted on April 20, 2016
Tesla Technology Saves Driver from Collision as Top Engineer Defects to Apple
The West is still being won when it comes to top engineers and electric car companies. News of Tesla technology saving a driver from an accident recently went viral, just as a top Tesla engineering VP defected to Apple.
A huge truck outfitted with a hydraulic lifting system barely avoided sideswiping a Tesla Model S on the highway this month. Lucky for both drivers and their vehicles, it was Tesla’s autopilot system that saved the day. Right at this same time, it has been reported by Electrek that Chris Porritt, former VP of Vehicle Engineering at Tesla, has been hired by Apple. This has occurred just four months after the head of Apple’s electric car project, Steve Zadesky, left Apple.
Check out this play by play of the Tesla Model S autopilot feature saving a car autonomously from a side collision from a boom lift truck. Rather than helping the Tesla Model 6 to drive itself, the electric car’s autopilot feature is actually a driver assistance feature. Joshua Brown, a Model S driver who was approached too closely on the highway by a truck that almost collided with it, was saved by the automatic feature that simply moved the Tesla out of the way of the truck. Word has it that Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla, even shared the video on Twitter.
Former Tesla VP of Vehicle Engineering Goes to Apple
Chris Porritt, who was Tesla’s VP of Vehicle Engineering since 2013, after working as Aston Martin’s Chief Engineer, has now defected to Apple. While it is no surprise that a lot of secrecy surrounds Porritt’s role at Apple, it is rumoured that he could take over the secret Apple car project. At Tesla, Porritt worked on the Model X and the Model S vehicles, in addition to the chassis of the newly announced Model 3. At Apple his new title is “Special Projects Group PD Administrator” but it has been suggested that he may work with the “Project Titan” team on the Apple car since he has such a long and distinguished career as an automotive expert. While at Aston Martin, Porritt worked on the design of the One-77 supercar and was at the head of teams that worked on the luxury V12 Vantage and DB9.
Interestingly, taking away each other’s employees is not a new habit for the two electric car innovators. Tesla and Apple are known to fight over top talent, and have been hiring each other’s employees from each other for a while. Apple was one referred to as a “Tesla Graveyard” by Tesla CEO Musk, where former Tesla talent seek employment after Tesla has let them go.
Experiencing talent movement from one avant-garde technical innovation to another is not unusual in an industry this new and insular. Comma.ai, another self-driving vehicle startup, has lured away another former Tesla employee to work on one of its software integration projects. Additionally, purportedly the teams working on Apple’s new car project have been collected from many different technology and automotive giants including General Dynamics, Land Rover, and Texas Instruments.