Tesla Nabs Top Apple Swift Programmer To Lead Autopilot Software Development

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Tesla is one of the hottest companies around these days, and it is continually adding new talent to help bolster its self-driving operations. And increasingly, Tesla has been picking its top prospects from Apple’s deep bench. Early last year, Tesla secured Jim Keller, an engineer that spearheaded both AMD K8 and Apple A-Series chip efforts, in order to lead in-house development of Autopilot hardware. This week, Tesla managed to steal the head of Apple’s Swift programming language: Chris Lattner.

Lattner is settling in with his new role as Vice President of Autopilot Software at Tesla. He takes over for Jinnah Hosein, who served in the role on an interim basis, and will now go back to his full-time duties at SpaceX. Lattner’s hiring comes a critical time for Tesla, as it is rolling out new Autopilot software to Hardware 2.0 (HW2) compliant vehicles. This software, combined with HW2, will eventually bring Tesla EVs to full Level 5 autonomous operation compliance.

Lattner spent over a decade at Apple, and was instrumental in the creation of the LLVM Compiler Infrastructure, which is a modular compiler set that is looked upon quite fondly by developers in the Apple community. Lattner is responsible for a hefty chunk of the Swift programming language, which had its origins at Apple at the start of the decade. However, it was not introduced to the public until 2014.

“Working with many phenomenal teams at Apple to launch Swift has been a unique life experience,” said Lattner in a posting to Swift-Evolution. “Apple is a truly amazing place to be able to assemble the skills, imagination, and discipline to pull something like this off.  Swift is in great shape today, and Swift 4 will be a really strong release with Ted as the Project Lead.”

Ted Kremenek will take over at “Project Lead” for Swift in Lattner’s absence.  “Note that this isn’t a change to the structure - just to who sits in which role - so we don’t expect it to impact day-to-day operations in the Swift Core Team in any significant way,” Lattner added. So, it appears that Swift is still in highly capable hands.